Andre Harrell, a veteran music executive and the founder of Uptown Records, has died at 59.
DJ D-Nice revealed Harrell’s passing during his Club Quarantine set late Friday night. Harrell reportedly passed from a heart attack.
Harrell began his career in the industry in 1981 as a member of the rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. From there he started working on the business side of Def Jam before leaving in 1986 to found his influential label, Uptown Records.
With Uptown Records, Harrell helped launched the careers of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Mary J. Blige, The Notorious B.I.G., Teddy Riley, Heavy D and the Boyz, Jodeci, Al B. Sure! and more.
In the early 90s, Uptown inked a multimedia deal with MCA allowing Harrell to produce films, TV shows and movie soundtracks such as 1991’s Strictly Business.
“He gave you the best soundtracks of your life man and you didn’t even know it. We never gave him his flowers. He redefined the party!” shared Quest Love.
He continued: “Def Jam was the artform. Bad Boy was the attitude. Death Row was the muscle. But without even knowing it, Uptown was ALWAYS the party.”
Harrell may not have received the flowers he deserved while living, but a project about his life and influence in the industry was already underway.
In December 2019, BET announced a three-part miniseries titled “Uptown.” The three-night event, executive produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment and Harrell, would tell the comprehensive story of Andre Harrell’s iconic NYC record label Uptown Records.
The miniseries will presumably still come out and celebrate the legend.
In his life, Harrell also briefly ran Motown Records as president and CEO overseeing the careers of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Queen Latifah.
He also served as vice-chairman of Revolt, Combs’ multi-platform music network.
As the man who reportedly coined the phrase “Black Excellence,” Andre Harrell surely embodied it.
Rest in Peace Andre Harrell.