Rico Wade, Co-Founder of Dungeon Family and Member of Organized Noize, Dies at 52

Rico Wade, a founding member of Dungeon Family and part of Organized Noize, revolutionized Southern rap with hits like TLC's "Waterfalls" and Outkast's early albums.

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Rico Wade, Co-Founder of Dungeon Family and Member of Organized Noize, Dies at 52
Rico Wade attends "The Art of Organized Noize" at Gallery 72 on October 15, 2015 in Atlanta. Prince Williams/WireImage

Rico Wade, known as a member of the famous Atlanta production group Organized Noize and a founding member of the Dungeon Family, passed away at the age of 52. His family confirmed his death but did not disclose the cause of Rico Wade’s death. “We are deeply saddened by the sudden and unexpected passing of our son, father, husband, and brother Rico Wade,” his family said in a statement. “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.”

Killer Mike, close a friend of Wade’s and another artist who rose through Dungeon Family, expressed his grief on Instagram, saying, “I don’t have the words to express my deep and profound sense of loss. I am praying for your wife and children. I am praying for the Wade family. I am praying for us all.”

Organized Noize and Dungeon Family also shared their sorrow: “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.”

Wade, along with his partners Sleepy Brown and Ray Murray, formed Organized Noize in the early 1990s. They played a crucial role in shaping the Southern rap sound, with their musical style of blending elements of classic R&B with hip-hop, contributing significantly to OutKast’s debut album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” and Goodie Mob’s “Soul Food.” They continued to work closely with OutKast on subsequent albums like “ATLiens” and “Stankonia.”

One of their notable achievements was co-writing and producing TLC’s chart-topping hit “Waterfalls,” which spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1995. Besides his musical contributions, Wade was known for his mentorship and support for emerging artists. Rapper Future, Wade’s cousin, credited him with launching his music career, stating, “Nobody could ever do what Rico Wade did for me.”

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