Rico Wade, Key Outkast Producer and Member of Organized Noize, Dies at 52

Rico Wade, a member of the pioneering Atlanta-based production trio Organized Noize and a key early Outkast collaborator, has died, according to an Instagram post by his close friend Killer Mike and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. No cause of death was cited; he was 52.

“I don’t have the words to express my deep and profound sense of loss,” Killer Mike wrote. “I am praying for your wife and children. I am praying for the Wade family. I am praying for us all. I deeply appreciate your acceptance into the Dungeon Family, mentorship, friendship and brotherhood. Idk where I would be without y’all.”

Wade’s family released a statement about his passing, writing, “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.”

Organized Noize and the Dungeon Family also put out a statement reflecting on his legacy and meaning to the collectives. “We are devastated by the news of the passing of our dear brother Rico Wade. 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. 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.”

The Organized Noize songwriting-production team — which also featured Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown — was formed in the early ‘90s and played a pivotal role in early releases by Outkast, TLC, Goodie Mob and many others, and were frequently shouted out or featured on those recordings. Along with Jermaine Dupri, their sound, which was as indebted to classic R&B as hip-hop, defined the city’s burgeoning scene of the era, which would lay the framework for Atlanta’s dominance as a hip-hop capital in the coming decades.

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Andre 3000, Rico Wade, Big Boi, C-Bone and Shanti Das Backstage at ONE MusicFest at Lakewood Amphitheatre on September 10, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
Front, L-R: Outkast’s Andre 3000 and Big Boi with Wade (second from left) and Atlanta music exec Shanti Das in 2016. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)

The extended collective around the scene was known as the “Dungeon Family,” which also included Killer Mike and Big Rube.

Wade’s studio in the city’s East Point neighborhood, “the Dungeon,” was not only the birthplace of many of the era’s hits, it featured in many of them as well — “We havin’ a smokeout in the Dungeon with the mary jane,” Outkast rapped on “Ain’t No Thang,” from their galvanizing 1994 debut.

Information on survivors was not immediately available, although Wade is related to rapper Future.

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