Rico Wade, Atlanta rap pioneer and Dungeon Family member, dies at 52

DeAsia Paige, Ernie Suggs and Gavin Godfrey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Entertainment News

ATLANTA — In The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s hip-hop documentary, “The South Got Something To Say,” music producer Rico Wade recounted how he grew up in Atlanta under the large shadow of Maynard Jackson, the city’s first Black mayor.

Jackson, partly through his bureau of cultural affairs, helped create avenues for Black kids in the city to express themselves artistically and Wade admitted that he benefited from them.

From the legendary dungeon of his mother’s home in southwest Atlanta, he crafted Atlanta’s hip-hop sound through his collective, Organized Noize, which begot OutKast and the Goodie Mobb, and told the stories of Atlanta’s grit, grime and glamour.

And with it, he rose to become one of the genre’s most influential producers.

“Rico demonstrated what Atlanta will give to you if you come at Atlanta right,” said author and historian Maurice Hobson, who has written extensively about Wade.

He added that Wade was able to identify and promote talent, even if it meant pushing himself into the background.


“When he saw OutKast, instead of being about him rising, he was like, ‘We can get behind these boys,’” Hobson said. “The fact that he was willing to sacrifice is a beautiful story about his selflessness. He would give you the shirt off his back.”

Rico Wade, one-third of the legendary Atlanta production group Organized Noize and a founding member of the Dungeon Family, died Saturday. He was 52.

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden and unexpected passing of our son, father, husband, and brother Rico Wade, Wade’s family said in a statement sent to the AJC. “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.”

A representative for the family said the cause of Wade’s death is unknown. He was survived by his mother, two sons, wife, and a host of brothers and sisters.


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