Dungeon Family PART ONE (pg. 6)

Organized Noize cemented their credentials with En Vogue’s 1996 No. 1 R&B hit “Don’t Let Go (Love)” and TLC’s 1995 Top 10 pop hit “Waterfalls.” “To date, that’s the biggest song TLC has done,” T-Boz says. “There’s no other crew like the Dungeon Family.”

Their accomplishments are still recognized by younger producers. “Organized Noize was one of the first camps out of the South to gain worldwide respect in the hip hop worlds,” says Christopher “Drumma Boy” Gholson, 25, who’s made hits for Rick Ross and Young Jeezy. “They’ve collaborated with the best from Macy Gray to Curtis Mayfield, and influenced producers such as myself.”

By the mid-1990s, the production trio of Rico Wade, Ray Murray, and Sleepy Brown was charging upward of $80,000 for a beat and top music executives had them on speed dial. Rico says then-Elektra CEO Sylvia Rhone paid Organized Noize $1 million to write 10 songs and Interscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine gave them $1.5 million to write and produce another 10 songs. “Back in the ’90’s, it was nothing for a million-dollar budget to go across the table,” says Murray. “But we were some of the first producers to be getting $100,000 a song.” Rico says L.A. Reid owns half of their publishing. “It’s a fucked-up contract,” he says. “[He] still make money on my songs from 1993.”

Organized Noize’s arrangement with LaFace was a production deal, meaning that they were paid to write and produce tracks for LaFace Records, a subsidiary of Arista. But in 1997, Iovine offered Rico the chance to start his own label trough Interscope––a joint venture similar to the arrangement Puffy Combs had through in Bad Boy Records. “I was Jimmy’s golden boy,” says Rico. At the time, Interscope was severing ties with Suge Knight’s lucrative but controversial Death Row Records. Rico felt a tug of loyalty for LaFace co-founder L.A. Reid––now chairman of Island/Def Jam, who still says, “Rico is like a son to me”––but Interscope’s $20 million offer was too good to pass up.

“Iovine said, ‘You ain’t got to touch a drum machine! You ain’t got to do nothing!’” Rico says, his eyes glittering. “He tried to get me to help him run his staff. Like, ‘Help me tell Dr. Dre how to get his shit together.’ He was offering me a dream.” In fact, the job offered was CEO of Organized Noize Records, and Rico accepted it in 1998. The Interscope deal and the frequent trips to Los Angeles drove a wedge between Organized Noize and the rest of the Dungeon Family: “People were telling me, ‘You’re a star, Rico. You don’t need them cats in Atlanta.’” His priorities shifted. That same year his mother was seriously injured in a car crash, adding to the stress.

“It all went downhill,” says Cool Breeze, who was supposed to be first in line at the new label. “Rico didn’t rap, didn’t sing, and really wasn’t producing at the time. But Rico’s our boy, so everybody got behind him and said, ‘We want him to speak for us.’” Meanwhile, Organized Noize Records signed a singer named Lil Will, a quirky rapper named Witchdoctor, and Andrell “Kilo Ali”, 35, a legend of Atlanta bass music. “After all the money spent, there was no Cool Breeze contract,” Breeze says bitterly.

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Melyssa Ford attends the Culture Creators 4th Annual Innovators & Leaders Awards Brunch at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 22, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Culture Creators

Melyssa Ford Shares The Importance Of Emotional Healing Following Traumatic Car Accident

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As a Scorpio, we think about Life and Death a lot. Being the sign of Death and Rebirth, we contemplate our mortality frequently, which is why I think we also seem to constantly search for a deeper perspective, in the hopes of transforming to reach our higher Selves. Having an experience that brought me as close to death as I have ever been, I’ve spent the months in recovery thinking A LOT. About the way I want to live the rest of the life God spared and what I have to offer, having been given this chance by Our Creator to discover a greater purpose. But it’s also made me think about LOVE. The outpouring of LOVE I’ve felt the last few months, not just from friends and family but the ways total strangers have supported me in messages left in email and DMs and comments; sharing their own painful stories as a way to create a sense of solidarity with me... man, I don’t know what else to say other than my birthday wish is for YOUR peace, happiness, safety, health and abundance. The pic I chose is an example of LOVE. My two Scorpio Sisters @iamalesharenee and @rocsidiaz in my hospital room trying to raise my spirits with some pampering. I ❤️ them and I ❤️ all of you.

A post shared by Melyssa (@melyssaford) on Nov 7, 2018 at 7:51am PST


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#tbt I’m normally a pretty private person but if you don’t celebrate your own victories, why would anyone else? This was a month after the crash that almost took my life. I needed to support of a walker from the symptoms of post concussive syndrome. My speech And cognition was affected, I was constantly disoriented and I was scared. But what ended up happening over the next few months of recovery was intense self discovery: things that no longer fit within the realm of who I was or what I could accept or be a part of. Certain relationships fell apart due to the glaring fact that, at my worst moment, ppl I loved and would have done anything for couldn’t seem to muster the same energy for me and made excuses for their lacking. You live and you learn I guess 🤷🏽‍♀️Now that I’m better, my energy will be focused on projects and endeavors that are more reflective of the real me... at the helm of my own ship, charting my own course. Thank you to everyone who has cheered me on and rooted for and prayed for me.

A post shared by Melyssa (@melyssaford) on Dec 6, 2018 at 2:07pm PST

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It’s taken awhile to get back to some semblance of normalcy; some things I’ve had to accept as “my new normal” after the car crash. But every time I thought about giving up, I thought about the strong women, both in my life & those I’ve admired from afar, and the perseverance I’ve witnessed them exhibit. It was the motivation I needed to give it ‘just one more day’. Happy #womanshistorymonth Queens! ❤️💕❤️💕 #machinegunmelly #friday #love 📸: @vizualmatt

A post shared by Melyssa (@melyssaford) on Mar 1, 2019 at 7:20am PST

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