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Outkast’s Producer On When His Kids Have To Turn Their Phones Off

Routine Behavior is a series where we talk to guys who successfully juggle businesses, careers, and parenting about the routines that keep them on track. Up next is Rico Wade, one third of Atlanta’s Organized Noize Productions — which you know even if don’t think you don’t know, because they’re behind certified classics like Outkast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” and Ludacris’ “Saturday (Oooh Ooooh).”

Wade hasn’t rested on genre-defining work from the 90s, though. Recent work with J. Cole, Kelly Rowland, and Big Boi has kept him and ONP as influential as ever, but being the father of 2 boys, ages 13 and 9, has resulted in one big life change: The man has no time for Madden.

What time do you start answering emails in the morning?
As soon as I wake up. Whether I wake up late or really early, it’s time to get into action. Even right now, I’ve got to get my domestic on. I had to make a quick run because I was working on something last night for that TV show Hannibal and my manager Orlando just hit me asking did I want to turn in the version I did last night or the latest version I did this morning. And I’m like, “Ooh, I want to give him the one from this morning, but I’m in the damned car!” I’ve got to hurry up.

One thing that’s great about today is technology. Email is really important because when I get up it might be 5 or 6 o’clock somewhere else. I can hear stuff on my phone and just use Dropbox to move stuff around.

Photo Credit: Rico Wade

How do you reconnect with your kid when you get home from work each day?
I ask them what’s up. Most of the time during the school year, I’ll ask them “Where you at? Where you at with your homework, your schoolwork?” My kids don’t play like they know it all. They know I expect something from them, so they take the opportunity to ask me if there’s something they have a problem with. If it’s a science project, they’re like, “OK! I have a science project. I need you to help me with it!” I keep it real with them; that’s how I connect. And with the food — that’s my thing — I cook for them.

Then because they’re boys I have to always be on them about little stuff. I might’ve said something to my little boy about what he had on, like, “I like that. I like how you put that together.” I have to let him know. I’m not gonna be the bad guy all the time, I support them in what they do, so I connect with them.

And I’m practical: “Did you brush your teeth? Did you brush your hair? How was school?” Girlfriend stuff. I go to the real stuff that they probably want to talk to their homeboys about — Pop’s gonna ask. Like, “Straight up, don’t look away. I’m talking to you.”

“We could eat out all the time, but I show my domestic side because it slows me down.”

What’s the one piece of kid-related gear that you can’t live without?
When it comes to my kids?! Wi. Fi. Period. Period. Or I know they’re not happy. They can be over my mama’s house, and I know they love their Grammy! They’re going to hit me, like, “Man, she ain’t got no wi-fi, Daddy; the Internet connection’s slow… ” And I’m like, “Damn, that’s your Grammy though. You got to suck it up sometimes!”

Sometimes a basketball. When they were younger it was the TVs inside the car, with the DVD player. I might have bought me a Range Rover conversion van with the TVs in it. I thought I was the best parent in the world.

How many times a week do you get home for dinner and do you ever cook?
I kills that! I’m a rock star dad; we could easily eat out all the time. But I show them the domestic side because it slows me down. Plus, it’s way more affordable when I make turkey spaghetti. I could take $20 and make an incredible meal for me and my boys, and we’ll have leftovers. Or I could buy some wings for all three of us and that’ll be $40, and we won’t really get full.

They really appreciate it when I cook. They love my collard greens, jerk chicken — they love all my food. And they’ve got rich blood, so I’m not just taking them to Red Lobster — I’m gon’ go buy some crab legs. We gon’ ball! We gon’ do it the right way. I cook at least 2-3 times a week because you also have to clean up after you cook. My kitchen’s too clean right now; I probably won’t cook until Sunday.

Photo Credit:

How much exercise do you get in a given week and what kind?
Probably once. I’ll do a little basketball with my sons — a little running. I need more, but I do at least once or twice. I’ve got my sweats on for when I go to the school. I’ll probably get in that gym, or we’ll leave that gym and go somewhere and do some pick-up games. Sometimes at his school, the varsity boys will practice after the middle school kids, so I do pick-up games. And I be needing it too; God help me. I mean, I’m in shape, but things hurt a little bit more when you don’t do it regularly.

What’s the longest you’ve ever played with your kid without looking at your phone?
Oh shoot, I don’t need my phone. I can do that for a very long time. When I’m checking my phone, it’s for business — that’s half of my responsibility, and business don’t close. I pay attention, but I’m on duty.

How often do you travel for work and do you look forward to it or dread it?
I don’t really have to travel to work, but when I do go to the office downtown, it’s part of my balance. When you’re a creative person, especially me, your life is to be creative. Taking the trash out, washing dishes, doing your laundry, going to the office, picking your kids up — that’s your balance to not be in a dream world.

“I go to the real stuff that they probably want to talk to their homeboys about — Pop’s gonna ask.”

What’s your go-to when you need work-related inspiration?
Music. I go to music, through collections. Having partners — Sleepy [Patrick Brown] and Ray [Murray] — we bounce things off each other. It’s just like reading books, we have so many old records. Or just getting out of the house for a second. Taking that positive energy and putting it back in the music.

What’s your go-to when you need to completely turn your brain off?
I like good TV shows. I like Bones, all those criminal investigation shows. They put a lot of detail into it. Not that you’d want to get away with murder, but they sure show you how they catch people.

How’s your attendance record at your kid’s events/games?
Ninety-eight percent. I’m killing it. I’m an after-school dad. I’m their guy. I’m on point.

What’s your kid’s favorite book at the moment?
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid. Both of them like that one.

Photo Credit: Michael Lavine

What’s your kid’s favorite toy at the moment?
The PS4. And a laptop to play World Of Warcraft.

What’s your favorite book at the moment?
Out of all the questions you ask me I really can’t tell you. Books are college to me. I go to them for information and use them like fact-checkers.

What’s your favorite toy at the moment?
My music is toys. All the digital stuff — I’ve got an MPC [beat machine]. I’ve got Fruity Loops

. Last night I bought a new plug-in. All these are are my toys. I don’t even play Madden like I used to, and Madden was my favorite. Nobody could beat me in Madden.