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The Recording Academy Honors 2007

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Hip-Hop’s relationship with the other coasts has long been curious, marked at times by periods of disregard, surprise and respect. For Southerners, much of that affirmative praise comes from the work of rappers like Scarface, groups like UGK, 8Ball and MJG, and OutKast, and producers like Mannie Fresh, DJ Paul and Juicy J, and the production trio, Organized Noize.

Birthed in Atlanta, the collective of the late Rico Wade, Ray Murray, and Sleepy Brown, is responsible for not only some of music’s biggest records but also for bringing life to a persona and energy that gave the South its moniker. The Dirty South, the moniker’s inception often credited to Cool Breeze, is a nod to the Goodie Mob song and a testament to the work they put in down in Wade’s mother’s basement, affectionately known as “The Dungeon”. Their work in creating the music for OutKast, guiding the careers of Goodie Mob, and producing the music for the South elevated its position and laid the foundation for future Southern producers who followed in their footsteps.

Here are nine songs from the trio that should be on your playlist.

Cool Breeze- “Watch for the Hook”

The funk, soul, and gospel-infused hook of Southern Man from New Orleans singer Merry Clayton is the perfect theme for this posse cut from one of the South’s premier clans, the Dungeon Family. A play on the song’s chorus and the dynamic’s battle rap flow, it stands out as one of the DF’s most enjoyable cuts—taken from Cool Breeze’s debut album East Point’s Greatest Hit.

Goodie Mob – “They Don’t Dance No More”

Prophetic, satirical, and visually captivating, the hook is embedded in listener’s minds, wedged in between the keyboard chords and vocals. An honest analysis of the changing landscape in rap, Goodie’s Mob’s lyrics focus on the increasingly violent and serious tone of rap music, which is why it remains one of group’s most memorable songs.

Ludacris – “Saturday (Oooh! Oooh!)”

The third single from Ludacris’ multi-platinum sophomore album, Word of Mouf, the ear worm of a sample and vocals from Sleepy Brown help give the song a feel of nostalgia and bravado. “Saturday’s” success helped reintroduce Organized Noize to a newer generation unfamiliar with the music of OutKast and other premier artists of the 90’s.

Goodie Mob – “Cell Therapy”

The sonics of the piano keys only added to the song’s jarring lyrics which foreshadowed the musical experimentation of Goodie Mob. In an interview with B-High of Hot 107.9, Khujo speaks on how the song came to be.

“We went to Stankonia Studios and Ray (Murray) had a beat. That piano came on and I was like, What is this?! I got lost in the beat.”

Serving as the group’s first single from its debut album, Soul Food, the song’s socially conscious themes and sci-fi focus led to it being banned on MTV. Controversy aside, the song’s production showed the world how creative and passionate Organized Noize was.

Goodie Mob- “Dirty South”

The definitive song, which featured Cool Breeze and Big Boi, for a whole region had to be considered near or at the top of the list. Iconic references to Atlanta staples like the Red Dog police unit, Ms Ann and her historic Ghetto Burger, and now demolished housing projects serve as a time capsule of Atlanta before gentrification. Safe to say, many people didn’t know about the Dirty South prior to this declaration.


OutKast – “So Fresh, So Clean”

The song’s bassline, played by longtime bassist Preston Crump, and sleek vocals provide a groovy and memorable energy to the track, making it one of the OutKast’s most memorable songs. As for the video, the visual duality of their outfits and rhymes represents the yin and yang that make them iconic and this remains one of the best examples of each member’s contribution.

En Vogue – Don’t Let Go

Yet another signature song from a girl group that came to define them as a whole while equally performing well on the Billboard charts. Arguably the most successful record En Vogue released, the song’s powerful piano chords and vocals brought the group a level of fame unlike anything they had ever seen. Envisioned by Rico Wade who subsequently suggested the song go to En Vogue, Don’t Let Go spent 35 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, peaking at #2.

TLC- Waterfalls

One of the biggest songs of its era and arguably the biggest song by TLC, the “Wateralls'” iconic guitar and horn selection showcase the musical dexterity and genius of Organized Noize. A metaphor that touched on the social and spiritual issues of that time, “Waterfalls” showed the world just how versatile and capable both groups were at making popular music.

OutKast – “Player’s Ball”

Without the work of Organized Noize, the world would never know about the genius of OutKast and Atlanta. A Christmas Carol about the joys of brotherhood and blunts, the song introduced the world to OutKast and set the stage for their future reign. Conceived in Rico Wade’s basement, the music that followed allowed OutKast and Goodie Mob to shine, while in the process leading us to the one of the South’s most important groups, the Dungeon Family.

In an interview titled Hip Hop: Songs that Shook the World, Big Boi spoke on the influence of Rico Wade and Organized Noize, stating,

” He was the gateway to LA Reid and he signed OutKast to LaFace through a production deal. Without Organized, there would be no OutKast or Goodie Mob. They put all their blood, sweat, and tears into making our first album.”