Legacy Recordings, the Grammy Award winning catalog arm of Sony Music Entertainment, celebrates Southern hip-hop’s greatest supergroup, The Dungeon Family, with a special 15th anniversary vinyl pressing of the group’s sole album, Even In Darkness, available on Friday, September 9. This 2LP set, pressed on 150-gram black vinyl for the first time since its original release, comes a day in advance of the group’s long-awaited reunion at Atlanta’s ONE Musicfest 2016. A white vinyl version will also be available exclusively for indie retailers. Pre-order the standard version HERE.
Named after the Atlanta basement studio in which members of the collective made their first recordings, The Dungeon Family featured the brightest stars of the booming local hip-hop scene:
Organized Noize is the nucleus of The Dungeon Family, supplying the beats and grooves for OutKast, Goodie Mob and other Atlanta-based artists. Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown offered production and guidance to their artists, putting the “family” into The Dungeon Family and helping them raise the profile of the Southeast in hip-hop. Elsewhere, Organized Noize earned acclaim for producing the hits “Waterfalls” for TLC and “Don’t Let Go (Love)” for En Vogue.
As the region’s leading rap duo, OutKast personified Southern hip-hop in the 1990s and 2000s. At the time, Big Boi and Andre 3000 were enjoying their greatest successes yet, earning their first chart-topping hit “Ms. Jackson” earlier that year from their fourth album, Stankonia (2000). It was the tutelage of Rico, Ray and Sleepy Brown in the Dungeon that helped the duo become the global superstars they are today, earning two further No. 1 hits, “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move” (featuring Sleepy Brown), from their 2003 double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, winner of three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year.
Alongside OutKast, Goodie Mob represented Southern rap to the masses, even coining the phrase “Dirty South” to describe the region on their acclaimed 1995 debut album Soul Food. Big Gipp, Khujo, T-Mo and CeeLo Green tackled Southern social issues in their lyrics such as racism and gentrification; their first three singles—“Cell Therapy,” “Soul Food” and “Dirty South”—all peaked within the Top 10 of Billboard’s rap singles chart. CeeLo, who left the group after Even In Darkness, would enjoy further success in the 2000s, teaming with Danger Mouse for the alternative rap project Gnarls Barkley (whose “Crazy” topped the U.S. and U.K. charts) before breaking out as a solo R&B singer with the worldwide hit “F**k You!” in 2010.
Killer Mike got his start as part of The Dungeon Family, also featuring on OutKast’s “The Whole World” later that year. He released a string of solo records throughout 2006 to 2012 before experiencing a seismic surge of notoriety with the hip-hop duo Run The Jewels, which he created with rapper/producer El-P.
Even In Darkness also featured up and coming local talent including producer Mr. DJ and rappers Cool Breeze, Witchdoctor, Backbone, Big Rube and Slimm Calhoun.
Even In Darkness, released in 2001, fully realized Andre 3000’s prophetic proclamation at the 1995 Source Awards: “The South got somethin’ to say.” With Atlanta as the epicenter, Southern hip-hop was at a flashpoint, with some of the most innovative and recognizable works of the rap genre firmly rooted in the region. With tracks like “6 Minutes (Dungeon Family It’s On)” and “Trans DF Express,” Even In Darkness stands as a testament to The Dungeon Family’s singular commitment to helping make hip-hop history.
The Dungeon Family’s impact on hip-hop can still be felt today. In 2016, Netflix premiered the documentary The Art of Organized Noize, executive produced by Queen Latifah and directed by Quincy Jones III, a documentary on the production trio hailed as “a story that demands to be heard by anyone with an interest in hip-hop” (Consequence of Sound). Additionally, Rico Wade’s cousin, Future, remains a key figure in contemporary hip-hop, with three Billboard 200 No. 1 albums since 2015 including the collaboration album with Drake, What A Time to Be Alive.
Big Boi, CeeLo Green, Rico Wade, Big Gipp, T-Mo, Killer Mike, Cool Breeze, Witchdoctor, Backbone, Big Rube, Sleepy Brown, Ray Murray, and Slimm Calhoun will all take the stage as part of ONE Musicfest 2016 at the Atlanta-area Lakewood Amphitheater on Saturday, September 10, along with several special guests. ONE Musicfest is the Southeast’s largest annual urban progressive music festival, featuring a diverse range of music that includes everything from classic and next generation hip-hop and soulful R&B to alternative and rock. Started in 2010, the festival is one of the most highly anticipated celebrations of the arts in the Southeast, with this year’s festival expecting an attendance of 20,000 music lovers from throughout the country.