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Hip-Hop Loses a Legend. Rico Wade, Architect of the Southern Sound, Dead at 52.

Architect of the Southern Sound

Hip-Hop Loses a Legend. Rico Wade, Architect of the Southern Sound, Dead at 52. The music world reels in shock as Rico Wade, the mastermind behind the iconic Southern rap sound and a cornerstone of the Dungeon Family, dies unexpectedly at 52. His death marks the end of an era for a genre that he helped define and elevate to global prominence.

Rico Wade, alongside his counterparts in the influential production trio Organized Noize, Sleepy Brown and Ray Murray crafted the soundtrack that would come to define a generation of hip-hop enthusiasts. Their groundbreaking work on OutKast’s debut album,

“Southern playalisticadillacmuzik,” and subsequent albums “ATLiens” and “Aquemini,” set a new standard in the music industry and solidified Atlanta as a powerhouse in the rap scene.

The trio didn’t stop there. Their creative genius behind TLC’s “Waterfalls” and En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go” showcased their versatility and ability to cross musical genres, influencing the charts and listeners’ hearts alike. Wade’s sudden death has sparked an outpouring of grief and tributes from fans, friends, and collaborators who remember him not just as a producer but as a visionary.

We are deeply saddened by the sudden and unexpected passing of our son, father, husband, and brother Rico Wade,”

his family stated in a release early Saturday. “He was a talented individual whose influence transcended music, touching the lives of all who heard his sound.”

The Dungeon Family, a collective of artists and producers including members of OutKast, Goodie Mob, and newer artists like Killer Mike, also expressed their profound loss. “The world has lost one of the most innovative architects in music, and we have lost an invaluable friend,” their statement read.

Killer Mike added on social media, “I don’t have the words to express my deep and profound sense of loss. I am praying for your wife and children, the Wade family, and us all.”

Rico Wade’s influence extended beyond music. His cousin, rapper Future, credited Wade with significantly impacting his career, providing an insight into the music industry’s inner workings that many never see. “Everything I know about music, I know because of Rico,” Future said in a past interview, underscoring the personal and professional impact Wade had on many burgeoning artists.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens highlighted Wade’s contributions to his city and the music scene at large. “Rico was a musical genius and one-third of the Grammy Award-winning music production team Organized Noize,” Dickens said. “A product of Atlanta Public Schools, he led in the creation of a hip-hop sound that has spanned decades and genres.

Without Rico Wade, the world may have never experienced The Dungeon Family, OutKast, Goodie Mob, Future, and many more. He left an indelible mark on music and culture around the world and for that, the South will always have something to say.”

The cause of Wade’s death has not been disclosed, adding to the shock and speculation surrounding the circumstances. The lack of information has sparked a wave of concern and curiosity among fans and industry insiders alike, who eagerly await further details.

As tributes continue to pour in, the music community is left to reflect on the legacy of a man whose beats and influence will resonate for generations. Rico Wade’s work has not just shaped the contours of Southern rap but has also deeply influenced the broader music industry’s evolution.

Organized Noize and the Dungeon Family have requested privacy during this challenging time as they deal with the loss of a brother in arms. The music, however, will continue to speak volumes, ensuring that Rico Wade’s influence will never fade from the world he helped shape.


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