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Hip-Hop Legend Dead at 52

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Rico Wade, a pillar of Atlanta, Georgia’s music scene and a revered figure in hip-hop passed away on Sunday, April 14, 2024, at 52.

Wade, known for his humility and passion, was widely recognized for his influential role as one-third of the production powerhouse Organized Noize and as a founding member of the Dungeon Family, a collective that defined Southern hip-hop.

Born in East Point, Georgia, Wade’s impact on the music industry began in the early 1990s when he helped craft the sounds that would define an era alongside Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown. The Dungeon Family, named after the basement studio in Wade’s mother’s home where they recorded, became a nurturing ground for artists including OutKast, Goodie Mob, and Future, Wade’s cousin.

Rico Wade’s production credits are not just extensive, they are a testament to his genius. With Organized Noize, he helped produce OutKast’s debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, and tracks on subsequent albums like ATLiens and Stankonia. The group also produced hits for other artists, such as TLC’s “Waterfalls” and En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go (Love).” His work has set a standard in the industry that few can match.

The news of Wade’s sudden passing was met with an outpouring of tributes across the music industry. Killer Mike, a member of the Dungeon Family, expressed a profound sense of loss, highlighting Wade’s role as a mentor and friend. “Words fail to capture the depth of my sadness,” said Killer Mike, reflecting on how significantly Rico Wade influenced his personal life and professional path.​

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens commemorated Wade, noting his indelible mark on the city’s culture and music scene. “Rico was a musical genius… Without Rico Wade, the world may have never experienced The Dungeon Family, OutKast, Goodie Mob, Future, and many more,” Dickens said, illustrating the extent of Wade’s influence​.

Wade is survived by his mother, two sons, wife, and several siblings. The family released a statement expressing their deep sorrow and asking for privacy during this difficult time. “We are deeply saddened as we grieve for a remarkable person whose influence reached many,” the family expressed.

His work, which resonates far beyond Atlanta, fostered a unique sound that has become integral to Southern hip-hop’s identity and left an everlasting imprint on the global music industry.

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