Andre Harrell, the founder of 1990’s label Uptown Records, has sadly passed away. DJ D-Nice posted on Instagram that the hip-hop executive had passed away.
“Truly heartbroken.” D-Nice captioned a picture of Harrell and fellow hip-hop executive Lyor Cohen.. Rest peacefully, Andre Harrell.
His cause of death of death is currently unknown. He was 59-years-old.
Harrell, a Bronx, NY native, got his start in hip-hop as half of the duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde in 1982 and they released a few singles includes “Genius Rap,” “Fast Life” and “AM/FM.” After a lackluster rap career, Harrell decided to transition over to the business side of the up and coming genre at the time. Once he met Russell Simmons, he became inspired.
After working at Def Jam Records and serving as the vice president and general manager of the label, he moved on to become the CEO and founder of Uptown Records. During its heyday, the label was home to Mary J. Blige, Heavy D & The Boyz, Al B. Sure, Father MC, Christopher Williams, Guy and Jodeci. It was at this time that Harrell discovered Sean “Diddy” Combs and hired him as an intern. Harrell fired Diddy in 1993 and he went on to start Bad Boy Records and become a mogul as well.
In the second half of the 1990’s, Uptown Records fell from grace and Harrell moved on. Harrell went on to become the president of Motown Records but his tenure there was short-lived and fruitless. He tried to found another label, Harrell Records, but that wasn’t successful either. Throughout the years, he and Diddy remained close friends and when he started he started the channel Revolt TV he offered Harrell the position of Vice Chairman. Harrell went on to create the Revolt Music Conference in 2014 which later became the Revolt Hip-Hop Summit.
Harrell was ready to bring Uptown’s story to to the small screen and announced in December that he was partnering with BET for a scripted mini-series that would show “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.”
Our condolences go out to the Harrell family.