Andre Harrell, the founder of Uptown Records who shaped the 90s’ hip-hop and R&B sound, died. He was 59.
News of his passing was first revealed early Saturday morning by DJ D Nice during his popular Instagram Live series, Club Quarantine. Sources also confirmed the news to Billboard.
Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Harrell began his music career as part of a hip-hop duo with Alonzo Brown, known as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The two had success, with hits such as the 1982 single, “Genius Rap.”
But Harrell soon had greater dreams after a meeting with Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, where he worked his way up at the label, finally becoming vice president and general manager. He’d leave to start his own iconic label, Uptown Records, discovering Sean “Diddy” Combs, who was incredibly Harrell’s intern.
Diddy’s contribution to the label would change the face of hip-hop R&B forever–with discoveries, including Mary J. Blige and The Notorious B.I.G. Other Uptown artists included Heavy D, Jodeci and Christopher Williams.
Back in December, BET announced that they were developing a three-part scripted miniseries about the label and Harrell’s life.
“I am thrilled to partner with BET Networks and Jesse Collins Entertainment to share my story, the rise of Uptown Records and successful Black entrepreneurship, and the management and cultivation of some of the most iconic artists to come out of the late ’80s and ’90s hip-hop, R&B and soul music era,” said Harrell in a statement last year.
May he rest in peace.