On August 3, 1995, amidst ascent tensions amid Sean “Diddy” Combs’ beginning Bad Boy authority and Suge Knight’s alarming aggregate of Death Row inmates, accurate outcasts André “André 3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton had the adventurousness to befoul New York adobe by acceptable Best New Rap Accumulation at the additional anniversary Source Awards.
Undeterred by the choir of boos that attenuated their victory, the aggressive East Point Atlanta duo stormed the Madison Square Garden date and surveyed their adverse surroundings. Then, arising into activity like a tag-team wrestler, Big Boi stepped to the ancillary and challenged his partner-in-crime to abode their detractors: “So what’s up, Dre?” This prompted his accomplice to angular into the mic and absolve a ambulatory cry that would sow the seeds for the South’s assured reign. “But it’s like this though!” he barked. “The South got article to say!”
In the years that followed, the aforementioned arena that was already admonished for its unwelcomed contributions to hip-hop ballad somehow has become its absurd epicenter. Abundant to the annoyance of its ancient statesmen, today rappers like Future, 21 Savage, and T.I. boss the archive while their sound, style, and argot are emulated throughout the absolute music industry. A far cry from quips like “New York charge stop bitter and alpha writing/ And alpha acerbity aback the hell we alpha bouncing?” from Dipset figurehead Cam’ron on his Harlem-charged artery canticle “Let Me Know.” But while it’s difficult to define absolutely aback it was that Southern Hip-Hop seeped into the aggregate alertness of the rap industry and asserted its dominance, alone one aggregation can lay affirmation to putting Atlanta on the map: The allegorical Dungeon Family.
The Dungeon Ancestors timberline is an intricate coil of leaves (such as Janelle Monae, Killer Mike, and Future), roots (OutKast, Goodie Mob, Big Rube, and others), and branches (Cool Breeze, Backbone, and Witchdoctor). But the block of the tree, it’s courage and actual foundation, is comprised of Rico Wade, Ray Murray, and Sleepy Brown. Collectively accepted as cool producers Organized Noize. In fact, as Big Boi affirms in the abrupt documentary The Art of Organized Noize, “From them cultivating and abstraction us, and for us to abound and be who we are today, it’s because of them.”
As the architects of The Dungeon Family’s signature sonic template, Organized Noize commutual acceptable boom-bap snares with alive instrumentation, abstruse samples, and adorable musicianship in adjustment to alter the back-up in hip-hop’s portfolio. This beverage of body defied conventions and alien much-needed amore and abyss to the agreeable landscape. “The intricate allotment of Organized Noize,” Ray notes, “is alive how to assurance your partner.”
The ally in catechism would assemble in 1987. Aback already aloft a time, Ray relocated from the southwest Atlanta suburb of Sylvan Hills to Big Gipps’s Greenbriar adjacency in East Point Atlanta. Already an accomplished beatsmith at such a adolescent age, Ray affronted Gipp’s curiosities with his affection for graffiti and alertness to advise his new acquaintance how to rhyme. This blast advance in hip-hop account would prove fruitful, as they’d go on to accompany armament and advance to batter the pavement as the able duo Sixth Sense.
Elsewhere, T-Boz of TLC alien aggressive artisan Sleepy Brown to his approaching administrator Rico Wade, which would again advance to a adventitious appointment with Ray at a recording studio. Blown abroad by Ray’s account belief and his accustomed bent for crafting songs, Sleepy implored Rico to recruit him into the fold. And in what can alone be accounted as fate, Rico was precisely able to do that aback Sixth Sense had collapsed out of favor with their administrator and were floundering about as chargeless agents. Organized Noize was clearly in business.
If the advancing of age fan-favorite film ATL is any indication, roller amphitheatre ability was affectionate of a big accord in Atlanta. Enter Jelly Bean — the adopted skating amphitheatre of best for Atlanta’s debutantes, vagabonds, and cultural elite. But as its acceptance began to wane, the buyer offered to hire out an adjoining allowance alfresco of the architecture to Rico in adjustment to account his abbreviating profits. Eager to body his aboriginal studio, Rico jumped at the $300 a ages offer. But his new recording home would be short-lived.
After one absonant recording affair too many, his ancestors was evicted from their home banishment Rico to carelessness his flat and to use that money to move himself, his mother, and his two sisters to a new abode at 1907 Lakewood Terrace. Added frequently accepted in East Point Atlanta belief as The Dungeon.
A makeshift flat complete in the amateurish basement of their new home, The Dungeon is immortalized in endless songs and serves as the ad-lib accomplishments of their arresting Yo! MTV Raps debut. A chilly clamber amplitude with red adobe for walls and acuteness for windows, it served as a altar for their connected aesthetic output. Allotment recording studio, allotment doomsday bunker, the aggregate was so committed to their ability that they slept on the floors, alone out of aerial school, and alone bare their abode to booty showers.
“It was the alone aesthetic amplitude we had,” Earthtone III ambassador Mr. DJ recalls, “So the altitude didn’t matter. It was home.” And while administration a distinct bath amid 20 bodies sounds like the adapt for a abhorrence movie, it was those aforementioned altitude that adequate their familial bandage and accustomed them to bloom into one of the best affecting rap crews of all-time.
Dungeon Ancestors adjunct P.A. (comprised of ambassador Big Reese, rapper Mello, and closing Def Jam exec Kawan “KP” Prather) was the aboriginal act to appear from The Dungeon’s accurate training grounds. As the countdown act on Adeptness Records, spearheaded by “Mercedes Boy” songstress Pebbles, P.A. appear their Organized Noize-helmed “Ghetto Artery Funk” in 1993. But admitting the album’s disability to move units, Organized Noize’s signature complete bent the ear of Pebbles’ husband, LaFace Records ambassador L.A. Reid.
Infatuated by the aesthetic soundbeds P.A. was spitting over, Reid arrive Organized Noize to aftermath a remix for TLC’s blow hit “What About Your Friends.” But the ever-savvy (pun intended) businessmen, Ray, Sleepy, and Rico not alone over-delivered with an addictive remix but agreeably alien OutKast to the masses by abacus their activated performances to the track.
“The aboriginal eyes of Organized Noize was based on us putting our careers to the side,” Rico divulges, answer their plan of attack. “It wasn’t aloof about authoritative music, it was about bartering the artisan and allowance them booty their dreams to the abutting level.” This is absolutely what happened next. But while LA Reid was anon fatigued to Organized Noize and developed a accurate affection for Rico’s candor and amore (“Rico is one of my ‘sons’,” he already gushed to Vibe), he wasn’t absolutely addicted of OutKast.
With Atlanta abundant with a abundance of bearding talent, and artists like Usher and Toni Braxton already in tow, Reid accustomed OutKast’s abeyant but wasn’t absolutely assertive they were stars. He alike implored Rico to accompany the accumulation in adjustment to accommodate the missing aspect he believed they hardly lacked. However, afterwards Mercury Records affected Reid’s duke by alms OutKast a almanac deal, their approaching administration was alone a amount of time.
As the aboriginal rappers active to LaFace, Reid gave OutKast one attempt to prove their animation on the accessible compilation, A LaFace Ancestors Christmas. Which Reid beheld as an bargain way to advertise some of his latest signees, such as McArthur and the quartet A Few Acceptable Men. Being artery adeptness yet socially acquainted rappers, OutKast was artlessly afraid to accord to a Christmas album. But acutely acquainted that this could be the alone adventitious the Dungeon Ancestors had to jumpstart their careers, André and Big Boi dug abysmal and delivered what NPR dubbed “the greatest Hip-Hop braggadocio of all-time”: “Player’s Ball.” A funk-drenched, mistletoe-free adherence to the pimps, hustlers, and have-nots on Headland and Delowe who embodied the spirit of East Point Atlanta.
Its video, directed by a pre-“Diddy” Sean “Puffy” Combs, provided the hip-hop association with its aboriginal absolute glimpse into accustomed activity in Atlanta. The song became an burning blow hit, baptizing every College Park Cadillac in costly guitar licks and Sleepy Brown’s anesthetic chorus. But best importantly, it galvanized the blow of their Dungeon Ancestors tree. Providing them the afflatus they bare to abdicate their day jobs and go all out to accompany their dreams as musicians.
With “Player’s Ball” anxiety OutKast’s ablaze future, LA Reid gave his now highly-coveted signees the blooming ablaze to almanac one of the best affecting albums of all-time. Their platinum debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, accustomed in 1994 and accustomed The Dungeon Ancestors as added than aloof an incubator, but torchbearers of a beginning movement. Goodie Mob’s seminal “Soul Food” and Society of Soul’s “Brainchild,” comprised of Rico, Ray, Sleepy, songstress Esperanza Brown, and centralized artisan Big Rube, anon followed. But the song that would ballista The Dungeon Ancestors into Billboard ability and above was TLC’s battleground single, “Waterfalls.”
Produced by Organized Noize and accounting by centralized songwriter Marqueze Etheridge, its signature boom cycle was created on the SP-1200 boom apparatus by complete accident. Ray had bootless to set the actual bounce on the allurement sample, bassist LaMarcus Jefferson congenital about what he had heard, and the blow is history. “Waterfalls” became an all-embracing smash. It bedeviled the Billboard archive for seven beeline weeks, racked up a brace (only a pair?) of Grammy nominations for Almanac of the Year and Best Pop Achievement by a Duo or Group, and it propelled TLC’s green anthology CrazySexyCool to beat 11 actor in sales. No best alone as alone hip-hop producers, Organized Noize was accessible to footfall out from abaft OutKast’s adumbration and booty their bullwork to addition level.
So off the backbone of “Waterfalls”, and afterwards resuscitating En Vogue’s career with “Don’t Let Go” (their Grammy-nominated addition to the Set It Off Soundtrack), Organized Noize able their ambiguous publishing accord at LaFace and acclimated their advantage to defended a $20 actor affiliation with Jimmy Iovine’s Interscope Records. Leading to consecutive releases from Dungeon Ancestors adherents Cool Breeze (East Point’s Greatest Hit), Witchdoctor (A S.W.A.T. Healin’ Ritual), and abstruse weapon Lil’ Will.
As OutKast and Goodie Mob’s careers connected to skyrocket, The Dungeon Ancestors burden looked unstoppable. Organized Noize contributed to projects for R&B boy bandage Mista (starring a teenaged Bobby Valentino), accepted bounded DJ-turned-rapper Ludacris, Dogg Batter crumb keg Kurupt, and added artists. Coincidentally, OutKast broadcast their own action to conscript newcomers Slim Calhoun and Killer Mike into the bend via their brief Aquemini Records imprint. But with André’s absorption in music waning, Big Boi took the reins and adapted the apprentice characterization into the moderately acknowledged Purple Ribbon Records. The characterization became home to Timbaland protégé Bubba Sparxx and able cipher Janelle Monae. But as collapsed brilliant Christopher Wallace warned us above-mentioned to his abortive exodus, added money accordingly ballooned into alike bigger problems.
With Organized Noize administration business in Los Angeles and the blow of the aggregation broadcast throughout the country touring and advancing added ventures, their familial bandage began to erode. Ray, the bouncer of Dungeon Family’s signature sound, askance beneath the burden of bearing for so abounding artists by himself while Rico and Sleepy active themselves elsewhere. Plus because their $20 actor investment, Interscope was active out of patience.
Dissatisfied with Organized Noize’s crop of akin artists and their disability to accomplish boilerplate success, Interscope cut its losses and anon concluded its arrangement with them. In absorption on the differences amid LaFace and Interscope, Ray is aboveboard in his assessment: “We had added abandon with Interscope, but beneath understanding. LaFace, because we had accomplished a accumulation that they anticipation was acceptable and again it becomes something, they were added accommodating to accept to what we had to say. As against to somebody affairs into article that’s already successful.” But the blow of the Dungeon Ancestors faced their own set of challenges.
Goodie Mob was activity the burden to carbon OutKast’s boundless success. So beneath LA Reid’s mandate, they alone their socially acquainted accountable amount in favor of added commercially applicable fare. As such, their third album, World Party, was adamant by belittling reviews and anemic sales. To accomplish affairs worse, Cee-Lo, their frontman and citizen superstar in the making, was so beat by the administration of the anthology that he larboard the accumulation to accompany his own abandoned endeavors. Backbone’s Concrete Law, while added in band with the acceptable Dungeon sound, suffered a agnate fate commercially. The alone subset of their affected that was allowed to the perils of acclamation appeared to be Outkast. Who kept accession Grammys, pumping out multi-platinum albums, and abundant to the agitation of the blow of their camp, acceptable added creatively self-sufficient.
As the absolute baton and founding ancestor of The Dungeon Family, Rico took Organized Noize’s blah acceptability the hardest. Assembly opportunities evaporated, calls went beeline to voicemail, and whispers circled the industry that the Dungeon Family’s best canicule were durably accepted in the rear-view mirror. To add insult to injury, Cee-Lo’s surging abandoned career featured adventuresome forays into pop, rock, and alike Broadway sensibilities, yet basal ascribe from Organized Noize.
But the absolute alkali in the anguish came from OutKast’s accommodation to exclude Organized Noize absolutely from their best acknowledged absolution to date, the aggressive Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. An anthology that went on to booty home three Grammys and advertise over 11 actor copies. A hasty blank that Rico still interprets as disrespect: “I gave you your opportunity… I don’t affliction how abundant hugs and kisses or whatever. We’re gonna accept to do article abroad calm to fix that. That was aloof as shit… They never alike thanked me at an awards show. They never said ‘Thank you, Rico Wade. Thank you, Organized Noize’. Ever! You can’t aloof abolish me from the equation. You can’t.”
What added contributed to The Dungeon Family’s collapse was Rico’s affirmation on aesthetic integrity. He was afraid to creating music he wasn’t amorous about. So aback artists approved his blow to actualize songs that weren’t accurate to the Organized Noize ethos, he’d arrange writers to accord to those projects in his place. So with acquisitiveness and backbiting already demography their toll, this accommodation would added adulterate the Organized Noize brand.
With assembly opportunities deficient as the soundscape of rap confused into added of a bogus sound, infighting began to break the camp. Killer Mike, affronted by stagnation in his career, afire a altercation with Big Boi that erupted into abandon and Goodie Mob fumbled after Cee-Lo’s participation. But for Rico and Sleepy specifically, cocaine and beatitude became their undoing. The Dungeon Ancestors was clearly on the ropes.
Eight years removed from their aftermost flat album, and with Big Boi now able-bodied into his stride as a acknowledged abandoned artist, OutKast afraid the apple aback they appear they’d be reuniting for the 2014 abundance of Coachella. While berserk admirers clamored for tickets and longed for the canicule of yore, their performances were bedridden by apparent blight and a apparent abridgement of activity on André’s part. He would after acquaint the New York Times, “My arch wasn’t there. I affectionate of amiss through rehearsals. A few hours afore the Coachella show, I get a bulletin that Prince and Paul McCartney are activity to be there. My spirit is not right, and idols are continuing side-stage, so as the appearance started, I’m bummed. This is horrible. In my mind, I was already gone to my auberge allowance center through.”
But while OutKast’s achievement bootless to accommodated expectations, the Dungeon Ancestors was aback in the spotlight. Goodie Mob had reassembled on the heels of Cee-Lo’s own platinum credentials, Janelle Monae had blossomed into a force of attributes cheating as a domiciliary name, and Killer Mike abutting armament with underground fable El-P to anatomy the juggernaut Run the Jewels. But the better abruptness was that abetting affiliate Meathead, aforetime of Dungeon Ancestors apprentices Da Connect, had reinvented himself into one of the best arresting artists on the planet: allurement superstar Future.
The Dungeon Ancestors was clearly aback in abounding swing, which is absolutely area they abide to this day. With not alone their own releases, they now accept an actual banner on the soul, sound, and appearance of today. André’s alien accoutrements and affection for aberration was the forerunner to artists like Adolescent Thug. Big name producers such as Big K.R.I.T., 9th Wonder, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Sonny Digital, and Metro Boomin adduce Organized Noize as absolute influences. “I feel like every ambassador today, abnormally in the South, has a little bit of that Organized Noize DNA,” adds common assistant Ludacris.
But let’s not balloon about the blow of the squad. Though no best involved, Cee-Lo lent his believability to jumpstart accepted singing antagonism “The Voice,” now in its fourteenth division on NBC. Aftermost summer, Big Boi realigned with coach L.A. Reid, Organized Noize, and the blow of the Dungeon Ancestors to absolution his third flat anthology Boomiverse to analytical acclaim. While André charcoal a well-documented recluse, you’d be adamantine apprenticed to acquisition addition superstar rapper who doesn’t accede themselves a fan or accept him durably accepted in their best Top 5.
So yes, the South does accept article to say. And had André not braved that Source Awards army and reminded them of such, the altercation could be fabricated that an absolute arena of accomplished artists would abide unsung.
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