The term, word, phrase — whatever — gets thrown around a lot nowadays, but Organized Noize embodied the essence of it before it was a pop culture catchphrase. The trio of Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown crafted the spiritually fulfilling, soulful, instrument-heavy sound that developed OutKast and Goodie Mob into southern rap royalty. Their in-tune tunes gave three crazysexycool ladies better known as TLC and even En Vogue career-defining hits with “Waterfalls” and “Don’t Let Go (Love),” respectively. Netflix binge-watchers and audiophiles should rejoice and revel in learning about the crew’s story in the new documentary titled, The Art of Organized Noize, which came out this week.
If you’re unfamiliar with the sound behind some of the South’s finest musicians, please check out these four interesting things that we learned from the film.
T-Boz introduced two-thirds of Organized Noize
Sleepy Brown recognized the distinctive paint job on Rico Wade’s car, but the two didn’t meet until T-Boz introduced them at a beauty salon where Wade worked. Their friendship budded from there and Wade eventually began to manage Brown. Shortly after, Brown then saw Ray Murray create a beat at a studio ran by Joseph Carn, the son of two successful jazz musicians. Blown away by what he witnessed, Brown asked Wade to pursue Murray, who was in a group with Goodie Mob’s Big Gipp called Sixth Sense. At the time, Sixth Sense had fallen out with their manager so Murray joined forces with Wade and thus, Organized Noize was born.
The secret origin behind the name Organized Noize
Before being known as the moniker for one of hip-hop’s best production groups, Organized Noise was the name for a singing trio that Rico Wade had. “He called them Organized Noize because… the girls, they sung loud, but it was still beautiful. It was just an organized noise,” remembers singer-songwriter Marquez Etheridge. The trio had a song with Queen Latifah on the Set It Off movie soundtrack.
OutKast almost didn’t get their record deal
L.A. Reid had several meeting with those two dope boys in a Cadillac before actually signing them to a record deal. It’s not that he didn’t like them, but he did question their star power. The celebrated exec gave them one shot: a slot for LaFace’s label-wide Christmas compilation. According to the documentary, the group didn’t want to do the song, fearing that they were being presented as a corny rap duo. So, they flipped the concept on “Players Ball,” bringing their own flavor to a holiday song. OutKast wrote the rhymes while Organized Noize produced the beats, as Sleepy Brown sung on the song’s chorus that brought it all together. “That was that first record where we realized we had something,” Sleepy Brown remembers. “Where we knew we could make some noise on this mu’fucka, real soon.”
Rico Wade is still upset about not being on Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Organized Noize didn’t place any songs on Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and Rico Wade still sounded upset about it in the documentary. He said OutKast were “arrogant as shit” to exclude them from the album, which would go on to sell 10 million copies and become the only rap album to win the Grammy for Album of the Year. “I gave you your opportunity,” he lamented, adding that OutKast never thanked them at awards shows. “You can’t just erase me and take me out of the equation,” he said. He gave similar sentiments about later albums by Cee-Lo and Goodie Mob. “Y’all need my fuckin’ opinion sometimes. … We fought for y’all. We went in there and sold this vision so it wouldn’t be compromised.”