Rico Wade, TLC ‘Waterfalls’ Cowriter and Southern Rap Trailblazer, Dies at 52

Rico Wade, one-third of the legendary Atlanta-based music production company Organized Noize and the cowriter of TLC’s hit “Waterfalls,” has died. Wade was 52.

News of his death was shared in a statement from his family, as well as a post from rapper Killer Mike, who began his career with Organized Noize. He wrote on Instagram, “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 ya’ll.”

“This is a part of the journey. 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. Love and Respect,” he concluded.

In comments on Killer Mike’s post, fellow musicians who shared their condolences included actor/rapper Ludacris, Three 6 Mafia, CeeLo Green and more. Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Bottoms also commented, writing, “May God bless and keep you all in His perfect peace.” Ludacris wrote, “Best Human Being On 2 Feet.”

Wade has long been credited as one of the creators of Atlanta’s signature rap sound. He formed Organized Noize in the early 1990s with Sleepy Brown and Ray Murray. The trio were the force behind Outkast’s debut album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.”

The relationship with the rap duo continued when they dropped 1996’s “ATLiens.” Organized Noize produced songs on their later albums “Aquemini” and “Stankonia,” also working with Big Boi on several of his solo albums.

Wade cowrote the hit 1995 song “Waterfalls” for TLC, as well as En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go.” He and the other members of Organized Noize were part of the music collective Dungeon Family, which released their only album in November 2001.

The rapper Future is Wade’s cousin. Future revealed in a 2024 interview with Rolling Stone that their relationship gave him a unique insight into the industry.

“I got to see Big Boi walk into the studio,” Future said. “Just always looking for a new Outkast album, being a fan and always being behind the scenes and seeing what it took and seeing the process of making records, and it was all just fascinating to me.”

Wade was born in East Point, Georgia, in 1972. He is survived by his his mother, two sons, his wife and his siblings.

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