The Art of Organized Noize (2016)
Documentary / Music
Starring: Rico Wade, Ray Murray, Sleepy Brown
Director: Quincy Jones III
Outkast. Goodie Mob. TLC. These groups have done a lot for hip-hop and music in general. During their rise to fame, they provided a unique sound that was unlike anything anyone had heard before. They fundamentally changed the landscape of hip-hop. It’s true that these groups did a lot of good for the industry, but what about the crew behind them…the crew responsible for their music. The underappreciated group Organized Noize, comprised of Rico Wade, Ray Murray, and Sleepy Brown, were the production visionaries behind groups like Outkast and Goodie Mob. Their story, told by director Quincy Jones III in his documentary The Art of Organized Noize, is a fascinating story full of ups and downs.
The Art of Organized Noize charts the rise of Organized Noize from their days working out of a basement in Atlanta to their days in major recording studios working with higher profile artists. The documentary covers a lot of ground and does a good job at pulling everything together in a nice and easy timeline. We get to see some early photos from their early days, which is some pretty cool stuff. The crew talks a lot about their Dungeon Family days (The Dungeon is what they called their old basement where they did a majority of their work) and the family-first comradery that they developed with each other.
A good portion of the story is told through the eyes of Rico, Ray, and Sleepy but they are not alone. Guys like Andre 3000, Big Boi, Big Rube, Cee-Lo Green, and Big Gipp, members of the Dungeon Family, are also on hand to give their accounts as well. Notable producers like LA Reid, a big factor in Organized Noize’s success, make appearances as well. One thing that’s nice about the documentary is that a lot of the history comes organically. The guys do a lot of reminiscing as they sit around together, which leads to stories being told. At times this led to some incoherence and off-topic conversations but it never got too out of hand. There was a bit where they went into their time with drug usage which didn’t really seem to fit with the whole mantra of the story.
Towards the end, legacy started to become the topic at hand. Quincy Jones and Organized Noize brought in a lot of people to talk about their legacy in the rap industry. There were a lot of Atlanta based rappers that made an appearance, like 2 Chainz, Ludacris, and Future, that talked about their effect on Atlanta as well as the rap game. Popular producers today like Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital also talked about how Organized Noize influenced them as producers. This stuff was necessary for a documentary like this because that’s what makes Organized Noize so fascinating. They never seemed to get the credit they deserved (the documentary talks a lot about this) yet they had such a profound impact on modern artists in the rap game.
It would have been nice if there was a little more archival footage featured in the documentary. You get an occasional image flashed here and there, but nothing substantial. The portions were they walked around their old house and their old studio space were cool, but I would have liked a little more. You could see their Stankonia recording studio in the background of some of their interviews, but it would have been nice if they showed us around a bit. I appreciate the abundance of interviews, but I would have liked a more substantial visual supplement to go along with them.
A lot of rap fans are not familiar with Organized Noize, a crew of producers responsible for a lot of the trends we see today in rap music, which is why this documentary is an important one. It tells a really evoking story about the most underappreciated group in rap. They worked day in and day out but never seemed to get the recognition that they’re peers, like Outkast and Goodie Mob, got. The Art of Organized Noize is a story that you should make yourself familiar with. Any fan of rap and hip-hop should enjoy this one a lot.