10 Thoughts I Had While Watching ‘The Art of Organized Noize’ Documentary » VSB

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10 Thoughts I Had While Watching ‘The Art of Organized Noize’ Documentary

1. The documentary was excellent and I highly recommend you watch it on Netflix if you haven’t already. Especially the first hour. It chronicled the beginnings of Organized Noize in East Point to their ascent with Outkast to Goodie Mob and TLC (though they got an early look via TLC way before producing “Waterfalls”), etc. Because I so vividly remember those times of my life (I was a teenager and music, like ball, was life), seeing the documentary that coincided with my own personal history was dope. The second half of the documentary wasn’t as hot for one simple reason: ONP is looooooooooooong past their heyday. Anything past 2000 (Bubba Sparxxx, Killer Mike, Calhouns, etc) is sporadic and just not as memorable. Which is okay; their legacy is solid and firmly cemented in hip-hop, especially southern hip-hop, lore. Drugs, as was somewhat implied, didn’t kill their mojo. It’s just that all of their artists got old. Outkast (and both unsurprisingly and surprisingly, Ceelo) were the only viable superstar artists they worked with after their downturn, and both were artsy enough to wade into the production waters themselves (more on this later). I’m glad they got their just due with a documentary, though. The south has had something to say for years and Organized Noize, particularly in Atlanta, was instrumental in saying it. That was a pun.

2. In the doc, they show Rico’s house after he moved out of the Dungeon of Lakewood Ave. It’s on Adams Rd in southwest Atlanta. I remember driving by that house ALL the time on my way to Greenbriar from my house on MLK and ALWAYS looking at that house wondering if Outkast or Goodie Mob or whoever was in there making magic. Every. Single. Time. I remember driving by one time and seeing a ton of fancy cars out there and being so hyped like I was going to be able to get into the gates. In my head, they were in there cooking up something special. I had no idea who they was, but they were were there and my life was going to be better for it. That’s how hyped I was about Organized Noize.

2b. The part about The Dungeon, where they describe it and how much time they spent down there…good Lord. That was some real hip-hop shit. It was basically a hollowed out crawl space with dirt walls. That’s how you go from nothing to something. That part alone is worth watching.

3. I don’t think Ray Murray has ever gotten the credit he deserved. For instance, until that doc, I don’t think I understood how vital he was. To let the magazines, interviews, and name recognition tell it, Rico Wade is ONP and ONP is Rico Wade. We all knew Sleepy Brown and Ray were part of the family, but it wasn’t until I watched it that I realized that at ANY point during their heyday, if Ray was like “fuck this” the whole shit would have come to an end. He’s the musical backbone, which is so interesting, because again, when I think ONP, I think Rico, which always made me think he was the main musical force, and it turns out he was basically Yoda. Ray, I salute you and all of the great music you brought to my life as the general architect. And it isn’t to say that Rico didn’t produce, because he did, I just didn’t realize how MUCH Ray was responsible for.

4. At the same time, as I’m supremely removed from Atlanta at this point, I’d almost forgotten just how ATL Rico Wade is. Good gotdamn. Rico sounds like every hood ATL dude you’d ever meet. In college, I lived on MLK, on the Westside, in my family’s old house on Peyton Place, SW (it looks like HELL now). Well, down the street and right past the Cascade Family Skating Center (Cascade as you all saw in the movie ATL), there’s a Checker’s that had the 99 cent chicken sandwiches. Man I loved that place and the 99 cent chicken sandwiches. Me and my boy went there one day, and when I tell you that my boy, a southerner from Alabama, couldn’t understand SHIT the dude was saying at the register? It was like a Black SNL skit, where I had to translate the entire transaction for him. To me, he sounded normal. Those real thick ATL accents are something else, shawty, and can be damn near unintelligible. I felt that way about listening to Rico talk at first. I had to reframe my mind back to that ATL lean.

5. Rico Wade was REALLY upset that he didn’t get a chance to work on Speakerboxx/The Love Below. And I get it, you taught them everything they know and then they decide they don’t need you anymore; that has to sting a bit (though they did a lot of production on one of Big Boi’s later albums). However, I can’t help but feel it’s a bit of retrospective saltiness. Speakeboxx/The Love Below went diamond and won a Grammy for Album Of The Year. And then they get up to receive the award and don’t thank ONP on stage. Okay, I get it, they could have given them a thanks. But if that album tanked and was trash, would he have cared? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. But when something blows the fuck up, and you ain’t apart of it after having been apart of the lead up to it, you tend to catch feelings. Mind you, he said this from inside Stankonia Studios, the former Bosstown Studios (previously owned by Bobby Brown), that is currently owned by Big and Andre 3000. So he’s got feelings, but they’re all apparently still cool. But I also find it hard to believe that Rico didn’t see that coming. Apparently, “Elevators (Me & U)” (for my money, one of the greatest beats in hip-hop history) was the first song they produced (with Mr. DJ as part of their Earthtone 3 production group) on their own without ONP on ATLiens, and they produced other songs on ATLiens and then Aquemini, etc. They were going to do it all themselves one day. They were too talented NOT to.

6. You want to know REAL saltiness? Here’s real saltiness: I’ve been by the Dungeon before, but never inside during its heyday. See my older sister and her friends all hung with all them niggas. So while I have family who know them all personally and hung out with them (also YoungBloodz), I never actually got to hang out or with any of these people. THAT is real salt. My older sister’s best friend – who is so part of our family that she comes to our family reunions, without my older sister – counts some of these folks as actual confidantes and shit. Yet, I know none of them in a real personal capacity. THAT is saltiness, turn tables over style. When Cam’ron says, “you mad?” Yes. I am.

7. Kind of like Ray never got his due, neither did Goodie Mob. Outkast went global, but Goodie Mob’s Soul Food album felt like the heart and soul of Atlanta. “The Day After” still makes me all emotional. Ceelo was the clear superstar of the group, and that’s proven true in recent years as his presence and voice stood out above all even back then. Though I have to say, I have NEVER liked TMo. In fact, every time he says the words “life of crime” on the album, which he does more than too many times, I cringe. Also, what the fuck was he talking about on the title track, “Soul Food”. Everybody’s talking about food and he’s talking about the OJ Simpson trial. Just stop , TMo. He was hilarious in the video though, they all were. I never liked TMo. Also, I’m surprised that their song “Beautiful Skin” off of Still Standing doesn’t get more love. More also, I hate TMo on that song as well.

8. I was wondering where Witchdoctor and Cool Breeze were. They were not good rappers, but good gotdamn did they get some of the most amazing production from ONP. Cool Breeze I definitely expected to be there since he was one of those artists that the Dungeon Family and ONP were specifically trying to get out there. “Watch For The Hook” a song where everybody BUT Cool Breeze (and TMo because of course TMo) came for blood, was such a big deal when it first dropped that I’m surprised it didn’t get any play in the doc. That was during the Interscope days where they left the money on the table but Cool Breeze was supposed to be the next big thing. Point is, Cool Breeze was a notable omission from the documentary.

9. Since I’m sure nobody else on the Internet will give this song its necessary props (or mention it again for the next 20 years), Lil Will’s “Lookin’ for Nikki” is such an ATL classic that I get misty thinking about it. I cannot stress enough how much this song banged in the A and how much it STILL bangs now. Organized Noize were KILLIN’ the A-town game in the 90s, fam. Unheralded outside of Atlanta songs like this and Backbone’s “5 Deuce 4 Trey” and stuff like Mista’s “Blackberry Molasses” (I know that went a bit larger than regional) are the reasons folks love ONP so much. They made such great music. Not just beats, but music.

Like Ray Murray said when discussing how old music formats used to entertain like 7 minutes songs: “after the first 3 minutes, you start to elaborate, AND THEN THE SHIT GETS BEAUTIFUL…” Organized Noize cared about the music.

By the way, if I ever write an autobiography, “And Then The Shit Gets Beautiful…” might be the title.

10. I don’t think I really ever gave it a second thought until the documentary, but its entirely possible that motherfucking Pebbles is responsible for my youth. Thank you Pebbles.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • miss t-lee

    I still haven’t watched it. I gotta get on that.
    Poor Cool Breeze, always felt kinda bad for him getting washed on his own track, but dayum if that sh*t wasn’t a banger. Still love the video and it’s homage to Reservoir Dogs.
    I remember Backbone, Witchdoctor and nem. Saw Witchdoctor when they toured with Goodie Mob through here. Also the same day I met Cee-Lo, and he was cool as a fan.
    Loved Goodie Mob’s album(s), “Beautiful Skin” was always a fave, as well as “Soul Food” and of course, “Cell Therapy”. As much as I love “Elevators”, I like the beat to “Cell Therapy” just a bit more.
    Still love me some Sleepy Brown. Saw him a bit with Outkast last year on tour. He could drop another album, and i’d be set. Joi was singing backup too. She’s still got that voice!
    I gotta tune in, I saw the trailer–just haven’t made time to watch it just yet.

    • charisma_supreme

      From the doc, Joi seems like she has a real cool spirit. Are her and Gipp still married?

      • miss t-lee

        I think they got divorced some years back.

        • Ari

          I wondered about that. Munchies for Your Love was so slept on.

      • SAR

        Yeah, they got divorced a while back. She is cool people. And she rocks a damn stage.

      • kid video

        You should check out her two earlier albums, The Pendulum Vibe & Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome

        • charisma_supreme

          See, only song i really know is “Lick” and thats bc we used it in a fashion show

    • panamajackson

      You’re gon’ love it. You have to tell me what you think after you watch it. You’re one of the folks I look forward to talkin’ southern hiphop with.

      • miss t-lee

        Most def. We’ll have to chop it up after I watch it.

    • It’s dope. We watched it on Sunday. “Watch for the Hook” is an underrated posse cut.

      • miss t-lee

        So underrated.

  • Michelle

    I’ve watched this about 4 times already since its premiere. The documentary was really good. Then I was in “all ATL everything” zone for like a whole 4 days lol. I felt Rico’s hurt when he talked about being left out of that Outkast album. Poor guy. But their story is definitely worth watching.

  • jhop79

    I swear they caught up with Cool Breeze briefly in the last half hour or so. He was in it slightly less than Ludacris.

    • panamajackson

      really? must have been for that second i got up and got a beer.

      • jhop79

        Those Diddy scenes made me thirsty too.

        • panamajackson

          LOL. I knew Diddy was gon’ be in there because he LOVES the fact that he directed that video AND that he told ‘Dre to take off his shirt. He’s been telling that story for 20 years.

          • Brass Tacks

            I never knew that till the doc.

            The fact that he wanted to capture the essence of Atl. I have much respect for him.

            Also, Rico “forcing” Dre to wear the Braves Jersey… Snall victory at the moment. But Legendary move in hindsight.

            • panamajackson

              That was such a big deal. Man, I remember that video and feeling very prideful.

  • charisma_supreme

    Witch doctor’s “Holiday” is one of my fav DF/ONP offerings from that era.

    • panamajackson

      Word up. Funny thing is (and the reason I didn’t include it in my post) is cuz ONP didn’t produce that song! I found that out when I was doing some research.

      • charisma_supreme

        Whaaaaa. I assumed that they did all of his stuff. Thanks for the knowledge. I still remember the video. Why ppl dont have good videos no mo?! Sorry, i ramble. Lol.

        You know, i didnt actually think about how influential they were until the doc. Heck, my car’s name in high school was “Black Ice”.

    • For some reason “Holiday” isn’t on Spotify’s version of “A S.W.A.T’s Healing Ritual”. I found that out the hard way on yesterday when I started constructing a Dungeon Family/Organized Noize playlist. Cool-Breeze’s “Watch for the Hook” is absent too.

      • charisma_supreme

        I found out the hard way that “Rhonda” isn’t on Amazon Prime’s streaming list for PT’s “We Ready/I Declare War”, along with other fav tracks therein.What is the purpose of them half-assing like this?!

        • I wonder why. Maybe they have uncleared samples or something.

          • charisma_supreme

            Educate me on what an uncleared sample is, plz.

            • panamajackson

              It’s when hiphop producers create a song, use a sample, and put it out but don’t pay the publisher of the original work. A lot of hiphop songs don’t make it to the album b/c of uncleared samples. Basically somebody at the label not doing their work. Usually, its cuz folks won’t clear the samples, so they try to replay or just hide the sample.

              Back in the day, before hiphop went mainstream, most labels just skipped sample clearance altogether and hoped they’d never get found out.

            • miss t-lee

              They ain’t do their business right…lol

            • The original artist usually comes with lawyers in tow.

  • Brass Tacks

    Thank you Panama!

    I watched the documentary the night it appeared on netflix, and had my brother watch it a few days afterwards.

    It takes me back home. I never knew how fast we spoke in Atlanta until youre removed from it for sometime. People would tell me to slow down and I thought they were being funny, but watching Organized Noize back n forth in the doc was like standing in my kinfolks kitchen..whooa!

    Everyone, myself included, thought Rico was the beat smith. When they explained that everyone would basically wait to catch the feeling off of whichever direction Ray took the instrumental was a very poignant moment.

    Sleepy saying they KNEW they were going to blow just not when or how. Was telling of the type of energy being crafted in The Dungeon.

    A classic En Vogue song was originally intended to be a hip hop instrumental?! Whaaa?

    I cant be mad at Pebbles. Her shenanigans with TLC not withstanding. She brought OutKast to La Reid. She BELIEVED in them. Ill forever be thankful to her for that.

    Shoutouts to Slim “Cutty” Calhoun

    I gave her a Lil Will CD and a fcukin poster. #Bars

    • panamajackson

      i watched that joint the SECOND i got into my house from work. my girl must have understood cuz she just sat down and watched with me lol.

    • What classic English Vogue song was this

      • Brass Tacks

        Whats it gonna Be.

        It was originally created as a song for the Dungeon Fam.. Rico heard it and thought En Vogue would be great on it. And the rest is history.

        • panamajackson

          Yeah, that was a great little tidbit.

        • I don’t see how it would have worked as hip hop, but maybe they had a concept I couldn’t think of.

          • Brass Tacks

            Yea I was wondering how that would work myself.

            Maybe Cee-lo doing the hook? But im grateful for Rico for recognizing it could be taken down a different path.

            • That reminds me of the story behind Jadakiss and the We Gon Make It beat. It was originally supposed to be for Ras Kass, but he didn’t have a flow that fit the beat. Strange…

              • Brass Tacks

                Ras Kass on the track….

                *Record Scratch*

                Whaaa?

                • This article explains more. The summary is that The Alchemist originally sold the beat to Ras Kass, but there were business issues. The Alchemist then offered it up to Jadakiss, and the rest was history:http://www.mtv.com/news/1443801/alchemist-responds-to-claims-of-double-dealing/

                  • Brass Tacks

                    Wow. Man that beat is straight heat rock. I cant fault Alchemist for business being handled the way it did.

                    But I cant fault Ras for feeling some type of way, either.

                    That’s one of those beats the moment you hear it. You know its a classic.

                    Thanks for adding to my Hip-Hop knowledge.

                    And continue to feed ya boy.

              • I’m glad it went down the way it did. The verbal acrobatics of Jada and Styles on that beat is just as epic as the beat itself.

            • I could def hear someone out the Dungeon Fam rockin on that. But i’m glad it went to En Vogue. They knocked it out the park.

  • PhlyyPhree

    I started the documentary last night, but being up for 48 hours straight got the best of me. I’m going to try and finish it tonight.
    I really just came here to comment because I. Loved. (STILL LOVE) Lookin 4 Nikki.If I ever became a stripper? That’d probably be my feature song (not really, but it’d definitely be in the mix). I lived in Ohio at the time and there was a DJ who mixed at 10’oclock every night. He took requests at 9:45 and it got to the point where I didn’t even have to say my name (and after a while, didn’t even have to call) because he knew I’d be calling and requesting that song.
    This makes me sound like a junior perv, so I’m going to end this story and go take a lunch nap so I can finish the documentary tonight

    • panamajackson

      Listen. I still have the CD single. It’s SUCH a great damn song. I might need to write an entire post about it to bring it back to public consciousness.

      Everybody in Atlanta who had a friend named Nikki or Tanya got sang at A LOT back then.

      • KB

        Yall ain’t ready yall ain’t ready

  • porqpai

    Crumbling Herb was my jam. And we were rocking Watch For The Hook in NoLa. I miss those days of hip hop so hard.

    • Brass Tacks

      Only so much time left in this crazy world..

  • Val

    Mane, PJ, I was lost through most of your post but your passion kept me reading it.

    • panamajackson

      and i appreciate you for that.

  • NUMBER 4!!!!

    I’m not from ATL by a long stretch, but living there 8 years taught me at least one thing:

    Real Atlanta Natives don’t pronounce NAAN “T” in Atlanta. It’s “Alanna.”

    And a deep ATL accent is about as thick as Flying Biscuit bread. Words all backed up and sopping each other like a full plate of soul food. It’s a beautiful, hilarious, elemental thing.

    God, I miss that place palpably.

    • panamajackson

      I love going back to Atlanta because I inadvertently always fall into somewhat of an accent. I don’t go full “my cousins” on it, but it gets close.

      • SAR

        I’m still here and when I actually get to talk to people from here…we talk like folk. Can’t help it.

      • miss t-lee

        It so funny watching this. My homegirl is from Louisiana, and I went home with her for a few days. She normally has a very faint accent, but around her family? Thick as heyll.
        It was fascinating…lol

        • Brass Tacks

          I do this myself. I think its cause once im in it its back to the roots. When im out the tate im cognizant of the fact that im not “home” anymore.

          The only time you hear it without me being back home is when im angry or really excited lol

          • miss t-lee

            I guess because I lived in the same general vicinity of where I was born/grew up I never really have to worry about this. Only time I hear anything about my accent is when I’m away from here.
            I could imagine that over time it shifts away when you’re no longer in your element.

            • Brass Tacks

              Yea. Having people tell you to slow down. Or having to repeat yourself 5011 times starts to get annoying real quick.

              • miss t-lee

                I could see that. I hate repeating myself…lol

            • I’ve 80 odd miles away from where I grew up and my accent is completely different from folks in Charleston. I have a drawl that folks here just don’t have. This can be referenced by the conversation centering around “Bo” that broke out in the election cycle post.

              • miss t-lee

                Being as Texas has so many different accents, I normally only get asked where I’m from when I travel to the H, Dallas, SA or down to the RGV.

                • SC has varying accents too. My brother and my oldest sister don’t have accents at all but me and my other sister sound straight country. You’ve got the Gullah thing going along the coast and inland is a whole different animal.

                  • miss t-lee

                    I bet. I’ve heard a bit of the Gullah accent, but not so much any others. Except for that documentary I told you about. I wasn’t sure which area they were from though.

                    • It’s the low lying area of the state but not exactly coastal. We could get to the beach in less than an hour.

                    • miss t-lee

                      Gotcha.

                  • KB

                    My folks in Savannah got the Gullah accent going. It’s crazy to listen to

                • Ille Jay

                  D am gal…the hel l you from? You done named eery major spot IN Texas above, cept Austin!?

                  • miss t-lee

                    Austin.
                    *cackles*

                    • Ille Jay

                      Word? Same here! Southside!

                    • miss t-lee

                      Oh word? Nice! I’m over in the 54.

                    • Ille Jay

                      Like folks round here say… Two different worlds, right!? Haha

                    • miss t-lee

                      Yes, indeed.

              • Marc.J.H.

                I’ve always wondered where “bo” came from. When I’m not at work, “bo” seems to be every other word from out of my mouth.

        • KB

          It’s funny how being around certain people can bring out different sides of yourself. I remember a couple of years ago I was with the girl I was dating at the time and we were in Atlanta for the weekend. Now most people who meet me now will tell you that I don’t really sound as if I’m from the south and that I have a more west coast type accent when I speak (I lived in various places growing up so I think that has something to do with it). Well her and I ended up meeting up with some of my homeboys from high school whom I hadn’t seen in years and the moment I saw them all my “proper diction” went out of the window as my boy shouted ‘Aye Keith whattup shawty’ and I replied back with “shid what it do cuh?’ Man the look she had on her face when those words came out of my mouth was priceless. She really saw I side of me that she didn’t know I had and that I forgotten had existed.

          • miss t-lee

            hahahah. This is great.
            My ex is from Georgia and he could switch it off and on. He’d do this voice that could best be described as Gucci Mane when he’d talk to his people from home.

          • I’ve had the same experience. My wife had a similar look when I was back home in Dallas and I started every sentence Clay Davis style with a “shiiiid” or “shiiiid, my got Damn…” She said I’m a different person when I’m at home. I replied, no, I am who I am at home…just different around you.

      • Kevin Simpson

        I agree the documentary was great. I’m from Chicago, but I loved the whole ONP DF movement. I loved outkast goodie mob cool cutta all of them. Outkast introduced us to the ATL, goodie mob showed us the dirty south, and ole cutta was just cool. To this day AtLiens is in my opinion, one of the top five hip hop albums of all time. Probably the first album I played all the way through everytime I listened. I only skipped elevators cause it was on the radio. Great article my dude.

      • Kevin Simpson

        And cutta was in the doc not much but he’s in there. I didn’t notice him at first either ,but there’s a shot of him talking at the mixing board. He just looks a Lil different cause he’s gained weight. (I hate when TMo raps too) its always like wtf did he say?

    • essem SEE

      Actually its more like “Etlunna”
      Second T gets no love

    • Lil Scrappy and Erica had me thinking they daughter name was E-Money until my cousin’s boo, also an ATLien, put me on game.

      • KB

        LOL

      • KB

        Sometimes I have a difficult time understanding ATL speak and I grew up in the area. For instance, in T.I.’s song ’24s’ it took me a min to figure out that he was saying ‘Porsches’ one of his lines at the beginning.

    • Marc.J.H.

      There are still people who live in Atlanta that are actually from there? I thought the real southerners left Atlanta a long time ago.

      • Shanna

        Yep, some of us are still in the A.

    • occupiesthethrone

      I lived there for a year and communicating was such a mess. The locals didn’t understand me because I’m from Boston and they said I spoke too fast and I couldn’t understand most of what they were saying anyway. And I worked retail during that year. I miss it though.

    • DBoySlim

      Real Atlanta Natives don’t pronounce NAAN “T” in Atlanta. It’s “Alanna.”

      Yup and if a word ends with an ‘”S” forget it.

  • Reading this a week after Phife Dawg passed gets to me. It’s always beautiful to hear your story in music. Also, I need to listen to Soul Food. Too many ATL cats regard this as a classic, and I plan on coming through this summer. I need to catch up to what them ATL cats are doing.

    But yeah, Pebbles low-key ran the 90s. Every cultural movement needs that behind the scenes fixer, and that’s all her.

    • Brass Tacks

      Pebbles was a HUGE part of Atl Blowing up like it did during that time.

      If it wasnt East Coast Bop or West Coast gangsterisms. People wouldnt touch it.

      The souf knew we had lyricist besides facemob. It just took some time for the other regions to pick up on it.

      • miss t-lee

        There were *hella* lyricists besides Face. We knew, and that was all that really mattered…lol

        • Brass Tacks

          Thanks miss t.

          You damb right

          • miss t-lee

            Just saying…lol

        • “There were *hella* lyricists besides Face. We knew, and that was all that really mattered…lol”

          Any time someone says country dudes don’t have bars I point them toward Bun’s work on “Murder”.

          • miss t-lee

            Bun f*ckin’ snapped on Murder. It’s my all time favorite from him.

          • panamajackson

            Man. The first time I heard that song I was like, Bun B just destroyed that microphone.

          • Princess Jai

            I logged in to upvote this statement!

    • panamajackson

      Man, Soul Food is such a good album. It’s so heavy but man, them boys were on their pen game. They’re a bunch of woke angry black dudes with amazing means for expressing their views. It truly is an amazing album.

      Even the dope boyz in the A loved Goodie Mob.

      • KB

        Live At The OMNI is one of the best hip hop songs ever in my opinion.

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