Rico Wade was the subject of a 2023 AJC hip-hop film. Here’s what he said

Organized Noize was featured in the 2023 documentary “The South Got Something to Say”

Rico Wade, founding member of the Atlanta musical collective Organized Noize, has died at 52. His family provided the following statement to the AJC.

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden and unexpected passing of our son, father, husband, and brother Rico Wade. Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of a talented individual who touched the lives of so many. We ask that you respect the legacy of our loved one and our privacy at this time.”

Wade was one-third of the pioneering Atlanta production team Organized Noize. The group became known for merging 70′s funk and soul with contemporary rap—creating a definitive sound for the future of Southern hip-hop. That sound became pervasive in the 1990′s and made Atlanta a formidable rap force.

Organized Noize produced hits like Outkast’s debut single “Player’s Ball” and Goodie Mob’s “Cell Therapy.” The trio was among the many Atlanta artists included in the AJC’s 2023 documentary, “The South Got Something to Say,” which chronicles Atlanta’s rise as a hip-hop hub. The interview with Organized Noize, led by AJC reporters Ernie Suggs and DeAsia Paige, took place at Stankonia Studios last June.

Rico Wade is an Atlanta producer and member of Organized Noize. Wade listens to new music at Stankonia Studios in Atlanta on Monday, June 5, 2023. (Tyson A. Horne / Tyson.horne@ajc.com)

Credit: Tyson A. Horne

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Credit: Tyson A. Horne

Here’s what Rico said in the AJC’s “The South Got Something to Say”:

On hearing André 3000 proclaim “the South got something to say” at the Source Awards

Wade was in the audience the night Outkast won the award for best new artist at the 1995 Source Awards. During the rap duo’s acceptance speech, André 3000 uttered the anthemic line, “The South got something to say,” which became prophecy for the legacy of Atlanta’s rap dominance.

“I remember exactly where I was. I was row eight, seat three (laughs).....It was just tension in the air between the west coast and New York.”

“I remember telling Good Mob, go up there with them just in case some [expletive] jump off.”

On creating the Dungeon Family sound

Producer Rico Wade, 52, has died. Here he talks about creating the sound for the South in Hip-Hop through the legendary group OutKast.

The name for the Dungeon Family derived from the “dungeon,” the nickname for Rico Wade’s studio located in the basement of his mom’s East Point home. The Dungeon Family included artists like Outkast, Goodie Mob, Killer Mike, Big Rube, Janelle Monáe and Future, who is Wade’s cousin.

“Sometimes you thought, ‘Ok, maybe today she’ll put us out.’ His mama is going to get tired of this eventually, but thank God for Beatrice Wade.”

“It wasn’t no Southern hip-hop before Organized Noize. It was Southern rap music. We knew what it meant to be original. We know what it means to push the culture forward, and we ended up making [Outkast’s] “Player’s Ball,” and it’s a classic.”

“We want you to respect that yea, Outkast went platinum, but we want you to see that Atlanta has something to say...and the South not only had to call it out, but to back it up (mimics the beat for Goodie Mob’s ‘Cell Therapy’).”

On creating “Cell Therapy”

Organized Noize produced Goodie Mob’s 1995 debut album “Soul Food,” which boasted the hit song “Cell Therapy.” Rico Wade engineered the classic, haunting chords for the track.

“I remember (it) literally. Goodie Mob had a show, and I told them I made this new beat (laughs).”

“Outkast was us introducing the culture. Goodie Mob was us really wanting you to know about Atlanta at that moment.”