You may not be familiar with the name Terrance Scott. But if you’ve followed Portland music at any point in the last 30 years, you know his pseudonym, Cool Nutz.
In honor of his three-decade career of propping up the city’s music scene, primarily as a performer, producer and promoter, Scott is being inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame this weekend.
Terrance Scott, aka Cool Nutz, at the home where he built a recording studio for Jus Family Records
Jeff Thompson / OPB
Scott started recording and producing in the basement of a little yellow house off of Fremont Avenue in Northeast Portland. It was his friend Bosko Kante’s mom’s house.
He says Kante built up a makeshift studio in the basement, a little bit at a time.
“This is where I watched him get his first turntables, get his first four-track recorder, beat machine, and then eventually equipment to make beats and have kind of what would be a studio,” Scott said. “When he went away to college, I actually ended up moving here and putting what would be my studio here, which is where all of what would be my monumental albums occurred.”
Scott and Kante started Jus Family Records at the house on Fremont in 1992. It was a much different time to be creating music and trying to sell it.
Terry Currier, the president of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and owner of music store Music Millennium, remembers Scott getting the label off the ground back then.
“It was: Get in your car, drive around the stores, get product into stores,” Currier said. “I mean, I used to see him probably about once a month. He would stop by here, check on his product, see how I was doing. If he wasn’t doing that, he was bringing posters by to promote shows.”
Scott started selling his music up and down the West Coast. He remembers early on walking into a Seattle music store, with tapes in hand.
“And the guy was like, ‘Where are you from?’” Scott said. “I’m like, ‘Man, I’m from Portland.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, that’s not gonna sell up here.’ And I said, ‘Look, I’ll give you the tapes you put them in the store. If they sell, they sell, you call me back. If they don’t sell, you don’t gotta worry about me.’”
The store owner called him back a week later, asking for more tapes. Word continued to spread throughout the region and around the country. Scott kept dropping off his albums, checking in on sales, taking care of the paperwork.
He estimates at one point he was regularly working with 50 different music stores on the West Coast. At the same time, he was doing his best to promote hip-hop shows all over Portland, the old-fashioned way.
“Having to be out at three or four in the morning, we’d be out on our bikes with backpacks, staple guns and posters, plastering them all over Northeast Portland, Southeast Portland, on Broadway and Hawthorne.”
He remembers when he was first able to hand off some of that work to a distributor. The music started selling on a new level and he got a huge paycheck. He was able to shoot his first music video, “What I’m About,” for about $5,000 in cash, and he had plenty of money left over.
Since then he’s witnessed a huge shift in the way music is discovered, performed and heard. It’s no longer about selling thousands of copies of your album.
“Nowadays it’s a whole different ball game because for you to see 20 or 30 grand from just your music sales, you gotta stream millions and millions and millions of times.”
As the artist Cool Nutz, Scott has released more than a dozen solo albums, and several collaborations and compilations. He’s been instrumental in Portland’s music scene since the mid-’90s, when he co-founded the all-ages POH-HOP Music Festival.
Over the last two decades, he’s performed alongside some of hip hop’s biggest names, such as Run DMC, Wu-Tang Clan, Ice Cube and Sir Mix-A-Lot. He considers himself lucky to have had those experiences.
“This music thing not only gave me the the ability to create music, create my own lane, but also experience so many legendary moments,” Scott said.
Just this summer an opportunity popped up he never would’ve predicted, with a musician better known for being on a wildly popular TV show.
“From June to like mid-August, I was on tour,” he said. “And I was tour managing for Creed Bratton from ‘The Office.’”
He says once he explained to people that he was hanging around in Europe with that Creed and not the band Creed, he impressed a whole new group of young fans of The Office.
He also hosts The NW Breakout Show on Jam’n 107.5, which focuses on local music. He says young fans recognize him from that gig, and call him an “OG” for it, without even realizing he’s had such a storied career for decades.
He’s come a long way from the days of driving around to dozens of record stores with a trunk full of tapes and posters, earning himself a spot in the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, where he’ll be inducted Saturday night.
“I call him the godfather of the hip-hop scene here because he really put 100% into trying to make this genre seem alive in this city,” Terry Currier said. “Here in Portland, there was nobody doing it better than Terrance [Scott]. He was the guy. He inspired so many artists out there to do what they were doing, and possibly take it to the next level.”
And it all started with two friends sharing a daydream in that little yellow house off of Northeast Fremont.
The Northeast Portland house where Terrance Scott produced his early Cool Nutz and Jus Family albums
Jeff Thompson / OPB
“One of the things I always tell people is: ‘When we started doing music it was for the culture’,” Scott said. “It wasn’t for financial gain. It wasn’t for celebrity status. It was because we loved hip hop.”
Looking back, he admits being an entrepreneur hasn’t always been easy, but all of his hard work has turned that love for hip hop into a Hall of Fame career.
“You know, I’ve been blessed to weather the downs, pop back up, provide for my family, see the world, create something that I guess would be considered a legacy. And also, enjoy the ride, like, it’s incredible, man. “
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From Cool Nutz and Jus Family Records
· Jus Family Presents The Western Conference All-Starz
· Cool Nutz – Playervision
· Maniac Lok – Stay Down
· Bosko Kante – She’s Mine feat. Cool Nutz & E-40
· Drae Steves – The Statement
· Cool Nutz / Dubble OO feat. Mikey Vegaz and Kenny Mack – The Town
Shout-outs and further listening:
· Lifesavas – Hellohihey
· Mic Capes- W.W.J.D. Ft. My Dad & Big Bro
· Illmac – Raising The Bar 13 (SPRNG edition)
· Will Mack – Streets So Cold
· Mic Crenshaw Obvious
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