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Architects of the Atlanta sound: Organized Noize

Staff Pick

A decade before this city became the crunk, snap, and trap capital of the world, the sound of Atlanta was defined by the excavated funk of one Organized Noize. Three natives of southwest Atlanta — Rico Wade, Ray Murray, and Patrick "Sleepy" Brown — laid down the sonic blueprint that helped put this city on the map in the '90s, right along with Freaknik, the Olympics, and bumper-to-bumper traffic. From the groaning bass line on OutKast's "Ain't No Thang" to the nervous tick of those ominous piano licks from Goodie Mob's "Cell Therapy," everything oozed together like pine sap and hot blacktop. As one of the first hip-hop-based production crews to forgo costly sampling for original instrumentation, they matched studio musicians with Ray's beats, Sleepy's funk, and Rico's charismatic lead to create a groove so thick it couldn't be perpetrated. The result: a discography that still serves as the DNA for Southern griots following in the Dungeon Family's tradition. And you can't mention their biggest pop hits (TLC's "Waterfalls," En Vogue's "Don't Let Go (Love)," OutKast's "So Fresh, So Clean") without considering the sizable stars they cultivated from that dungeon-of-a-dirt-floor basement down in Rico's mother's house.

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