Another Hip-Hop Legend Has Died: Rico Wade Was 52

The producer was behind hits for artists such as Outkast, Goodie Mob, Ludacris, TLC, and more.

Rico Wade, a rap music pioneer and a member of the legendary Atlanta group Organized Noize, died at the age of 52. Wade's family released a statement on Saturday afternoon confirming his death.

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

Organized Noize and the Dungeon Family released a statement referring to him as "one of the most innovative architects in music." "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. 

The statement continued, "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. 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 issued a statement, saying Wade made an enduring impact on the world's music and culture. "My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Rico Wade," the statement read, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Rico was a musical genius and one third of the Grammy Award-winning music production team Organized Noize. 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."

As part of Organized Noize, the Dungeon Family brought together Atlanta's hip-hop artists with soul and funk influences, including Outkast, Goodie Mob, Janelle Monáe, and Future (Wade's cousin). Atlanta rapper and Dungeon Family member Killer Mike expressed his condolences on social media on Saturday.

He wrote, "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. I deeply appreciate your acceptance into the Dungeon Family, mentorship, friendship and brotherhood. Idk where I would be without y'all."

"This is a part of the journey," he added. "You told me 'It ain't been hard throughout the journey, it's been a Journey '. The journey ain't gonna be the Same Journey without U. Like U say tho Umma 'Stay Down on it'......we all are." There have been no further details released regarding Wade's death.

In the early 1990s, Wade formed Organized Noize with Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown. They produced hits for Outkast, Goodie Mob, Ludacris, and TLC, among others.

"The Dungeon Family" gets its name from Wade's studio, known as "The Dungeon," which resided in the basement of his mother's East Point home, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wade was survived by his mother, two sons, wife, and many brothers and sisters.