Questlove pays tribute to ‘melody brother’ after Rico Wade’s death

Hawks, Falcons and city of Atlanta express their shock and sadness
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 /

Credit: Tyson A. Horne

Credit: Tyson A. Horne

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 /

Hip-hop fans, musicians across the country and Atlanta leaders have continued to share their feelings on social media as news of Atlanta music pioneer Rico Wade’s death made the rounds online.

Wade was one-third of the legendary Atlanta production group Organized Noize and a member of the Dungeon Family. He was 52.

“Giving gratitude to Rico & his fellow Dungeon Fam for all the amazing gifts they bestowed to the entire world ... giving love and healing and clarity energy for the Wade family,” stated Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the cofounder and drummer of the Roots. Questlove said he regretted having their first “real” conversation 30 years after they had already been intrenched in the music industry.

“This is horrible news to hear,” Questlove wrote on Instagram. “Rest in melody brother thank you once again for your contributions to our lives.”

“Sending my love and condolence to the Wade family and all my brothers in Dungeon,” added American rapper Jermaine Dupri.

His death was also felt by the sports world in Atlanta, including the Hawks, a team he loved rooting for.

“We join Atlanta in mourning the loss of Rico Wade, a pioneer of Atlanta culture and a passionate Hawks fan,” the Atlanta Hawks wrote on X, along with a photo of the longtime producer in a throwback basketball jersey.

“Rest in Power, Rico Wade,” added the Atlanta Falcons on the social media platform.

Other fans acknowledged Wade’s lasting contributions to the Southern hip-hop scene.

“From Kilo Ali to Outkast, from Goodie Mob to TLC, from Da Connect to Future,” one fan wrote. “... He played a part in the soundtrack (throughout) my Atlanta life. Thankful for that.”

The rapper Speech, a member of the progressive hip-hop group Arrested Development, called Wade “an undeniable spirit of ATL HipHop.”

“This hurts my heart,” he said in a social media post.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens also voiced his sadness over the producer’s death, calling Wade a “musical genius” whose impact spanned decades.

971111 Atlanta, Ga: Rico Wade, the CEO of Organized Noise, a R & B record label in his studio in his home. (AJC Staff Photo/Marlene Karas) 11/97

Credit: File photo

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Credit: File photo

Without Wade, the mayor said the world may not have experienced The Dungeon Family, OutKast, Goodie Mob, Future or other influential Southern artists.

“Rico was a musical genius and one third of the Grammy Award-winning music production team Organized Noize. A product of Atlanta Public Schools, he led in the creation of a hip-hop sound that has spanned decades and genres,” Dickens said in a statement. “Rico left an indelible mark on music and culture around the world and for that, the South will always have something to say.”

Wade is the cousin of Atlanta rapper Future, who stated on Instagram that his life wouldn’t have been possible without him.

“Love u forever,” Future wrote.

— Staff writer DeAsia Paige contributed to this article.