Rico Wade, Organized Noize Producer and Atlanta Rap Architect, Dies at 52

Wade and his group are behind hits by Outkast, TLC and Goodie Mob

Photo: Boiler Room via YouTube

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Apr 15, 2024

Rico Wade — a member of foundational Atlanta rap production trio Organized Noize who co-produced albums by Outkast, Goodie Mob and more — has died. Wade's death was announced by his family Saturday (April 13), though a cause of death was not revealed. He was 52.

Wade and Organized Noise — the group founded with Sleepy Brown and Ray Murray — are credited with kickstarting the rise of Southern hip-hop through their work with groups like Outkast. Through a production deal they had signed with LaFace Records, the trio produced the entirety of Outkast's 1994 debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, marked for its use of live instrumentation, and continued collaborating with André 3000 and Big Boi on 1996's ATLiens, 1998's Aquemini and 2000's Stankonia.

Organized Noize are also recognized for producing TLC's "Waterfalls," Ludacris's "Saturday (Oooh!Ooooh!)," Goodie Mob's 1995 debut Soul Food and songs across Big Boi's trio of solo albums, the most recent of which is 2017's Boomiverse.

It was the basement of Wade's mother's house where he and Organized Noize established their "Dungeon" studio, and formed the Dungeon Family of artists. In a respective statement, both groups shared, "The world has lost one of the most innovative architects in music, and we have lost an invaluable friend."

"Rico was the cornerstone of Organized Noize and the Dungeon Family, and we will forever treasure his memory and the moments we shared, creating music as a united team," the statement continues. "Our hearts weigh heavy with sorrow, and we kindly request privacy and empathy during this challenging period. Rico's presence will always have a special spot in our hearts, and in the music we presented to the world."

Wade was the cousin of modern Atlanta rap star Future. The artist immortalized Wade's influence and his own time in Dungeon studio in his 2019 song "Never Stop," rapping, "I can see it vividly at the crib, Rico basement / Watch him get the moolah, I was sittin' back bein' patient / I was sittin' back, programmin' my brain, I was in trainin'."

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