Veteran music exec Andre Harrell says he was equally caught off guard by the passing of rapper Heavy D earlier today.

“This is a tremendous loss to all of us, not just to those in hip hop,” Harrell tells “Heavy was a gentle giant. He was charming.”

Harrell, who signed Heavy D & the Boyz to his Uptown Records back in 1987, remembers Heavy’s sense of humor the most. “I remember getting him to work with then choreographer Rosie Perez and him looking at me, like, ‘Should we really do this?’ And I said, ‘a big man dancing is going to be really fun for people. It’s gonna make them love you.’” Heavy agreed, and could later be found dancing in most of his videos.

“He took chances that a big guy wouldn’t take artistically in terms of the kinds of videos he did,” says Harrell.

The two friends always kept in touch over the years and last saw each other at the BET Hip Hop Awards last month.

“I told him I was proud of him,” Harrell remembers.


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