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Rico Wade, OutKast producer, Organized Noize member, dead at 52

Rico Wade

Rico Wade, who co-wrote and produced the 1995 hit “Waterfalls” for TLC while a member of the Atlanta production team Organized Noize and founded the Dungeon Family collective, has died. He was 52.

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Wade’s family confirmed his death in a statement on Saturday, WSB-TV reported. No cause was given.

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

Wade’s death was also confirmed in an Instagram post by his close friend, Killer Mike, a fellow member of the Dungeon Family.

“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,” Killer Mike wrote. “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.”

The Organized Noize songwriting-production team -- which also featured Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown -- was formed during the early 1990s, Entertainment Weekly reported. The team played a major role in the early releases by OutKast, TLC, Goodie Mob and others.

The extended collective around the Atlanta scene was known as the “Dungeon Family,” which also included Killer Mike and Big Rube, according to NBC News. Rico’s studio, known as “the Dungeon,” reportedly was located in the basement of the rapper’s mother in the Atlanta suburb of East Point, according to WSB.

The studio received a shoutout from OutKast on their 1994 debut, “Ain’t No Thang,” NBC News reported.

“We havin’ a smokeout in the Dungeon with the mary jane,” the group rapped.

In a statement, Organized Noize and the Dungeon Family said they were “devastated” to learn of Wade’s death.

“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,” the statement said. “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.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens also released a statement, WSB reported.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Rico Wade. 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. Rico left an indelible mark on music and culture around the world and for that, the South will always have something to say.”

Organized Noize and Wade co-wrote and produced hits like TLC’s “Waterfalls,” En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go (Love),” and Ludacris’ “Saturday (Oooh! Ooooh!),” Entertainment Weekly reported.

Organized Noize was the subject of a Netflix documentary in 2016 directed by Quincy Jones III called “The Art of Organized Noize,” the entertainment news website reported.

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