The Art of being a Team

In 1994 I first heard Player’s Ball from Outkast. It would be the first of many songs to grace my ears from the now legendary producer trio know as Organized Noize. Recently I watched the documentary The art of Organized Noize, a tale of beginnings, success, struggles and rebirth.  A tale which is similar to the tale any company or team.

Like any company their tale started with an idea/dream. A dream of better days, a dream of being successful!  Within the team of 3, each had their own flavour, specialty and role, which they combined to create sonic landscapes that would shape the sound of Southern HipHop. They played on each other’s strengths and  created something unique.  But what made this team of producers so successful. Let us have a look at Organized Noize using the 7 core components of the psychology of teamwork

1 Team Identity

Organized Noize’s (and the Dungeon Family) desire to work together was so great that there was a period they all basically resided in the parental home of Rico Wade. Within that home they all worked together from the studio in the basement. Here they crafted their sound and most importantly their team identity The Dungeon Family. An identity which they nurtured by, sharing, giving, and letting everyone grow in their own way.

2 Motivation

Within the basement they each had their own role, set their goals and kept being persistent. Motivating each other to reaching their goals. It is clear that everyone knew the aspirations of others and provided the space needed to fulfil these aspiration. Even if in some instances these aspirations were not directly in line with what the rest of the group were working on.

3 Emotional Awareness

The documentary shows how important emotional awareness is for a team. In the beginning of their journey Organized Noize were always together and aware of each other’s emotions. At the height of their stardom, the lack of proper communication brought about a loss of emotional awareness and with it internal struggles. But the bond formed in the past ensured that it was at a high enough level for Rico to drop what he was doing, to assist and re-join Ray Murray when he was emotionally overburdened. This is an example of how their emotional awareness kept the trio together and ensured that there was a good support system.

4 Communication

Under “Emotional Awareness” the importance of good communication is also highlighted. The courage to communicate when things aren’t going good is very important within a team. Ray could have kept his feelings and emotions to himself but he chose to share them. What is most important to note is the reaction from the others. They acted upon this cry for help ensuring that it was not only heard but that steps were taken to resolve the issue.

5 Stress Tolerance

Within the documentary there were several periods highlighted that showed the stress tolerance of Organized Noize and those surrounding them.  Examples of these stress moments are the loss of their first studio and moving it to the basement of Rico Wade’s parental home. A decision which also affected his mother and sisters.

One could say that best showcase of stress tolerance by Organized Noize was at the moment they were not considered relevant anymore. Going from being the most requested producers to labels not accepting their calls or reaching out anymore. Also having to adapt to current musical tools and mixing it with their way of creating  music.

6 Conflict Resolution

The team dealt with different sources of conflict, conflict originating from outside factors and conflict within the team.

The conflict of making what labels wanted versus creating their own new sound. Which resulted in the loss of a USD 20mil deal. Such conflict also happens in business, for example creating or doing a service purely because it was requested by a customer or even management. The inner conflict during a period where Rico Wade and Sleepy Brown where barely on speaking terms. For a 2 members of a trio to have a conflict could cripple and destroy many a team. However they pulled through and tackled the challenges that were to come.

7 Positive Mood

Maintaining a positive mood is easy when things are going your way but the true test of a team is maintaining this mood and outlook when the chips are down. As the documentary reaches its end you see the positive outlook that the Organized Noize uses to tackle the future. You see the courage they have by staying true to their sound. Their positive outlook and feel for humour is prevalent within the whole documentary with smiles to be seen even when talking about the challenges they faced.

Whether it be music, sports or business all teams need a balance of the 7 core components. Take the time and have a look at your team and how you maintain these 7 components.

For any of you who might be interested in the story of this trio, The Art of Organized Noize can be seen on Netflix. I would to love hear if you enjoyed it and had any takeaways I might have missed.

Comment below and remember to share this blog with your family, friends and colleagues!


Freestyling through life

Today I put on Ol Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: the dirty version. Ol Dirty Bastard is my favourite rapper of all time. Not because of his rhyme skill but because he was always unapologetically himself (we now have Kanye and Joe Budden but they apologise or try to explain any statement that falls wrong). I put on the album so I can fall back into nostalgia and learn from the mindset the teenage me, had in 1995. I was freestyling through life!

Quick definition of what freestyle rapping in HipHop was circa 1995.

Freestyle rapping is reciting (spitting) lyrics in a group (ciphers) or alone that you make up on the spot.

(For a whole rundown on how the definition changed over the years check the following Wikipedia link

Freestyle in this form is full of successes and failures. Your improvisation skills had to be impeccable if you could pull off a freestyle without error. That said most also threw in rhymes that were pre-written. 15 year old me was fine with any successes and also any failures life brought with it at that time. Somewhere along the path of becoming an adult I (like many of us) started to do everything in my power to avoid failures. Everything had to be perfect. The results I delivered to management, the CV used for job applications, Linkedin profile, public image and being the perfect partner and example to my children. Not only did I expect perfection from myself but I started expecting it from those around me.


This mindset caused failures to be interpreted as a burden instead of a lesson. It also delayed any words from being said until what would be conveyed is “perfect”. Delayed any decision from being made until everything was “perfect”.  And then during a mentally taxing time, listening to Ol Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chamber I decided to be more like the teenage me! I started freestyle rapping to the beats. With my mind tuned to “perfection” and not having done it in years I can tell you it was not a very successful freestyle. But instead of focussing on what went wrong my thoughts automatically focussed on which rhymes were good and the tweaks needed to improve the others. I  started to celebrate my successes and learn from my failures.


Fast forward some years and here I sit “freestyling” my website in order to get this blog up.  I now use the Freestyle rap as one of my tools to help others create and celebrate successes but also to accept and tweak their failures!

Contact me and learn how HipHop can inspire and motivate you and/or your organisation!