The Hip-Hop community and music world at large are gathered in mourning the loss of Uptown Records founder and music executive, Andre Harrell. The news came on Friday (May 8) but the cause of his passing has yet to be shared.
During an Instagram Live session, DJ D-Dnice informed the viewing public of the news, which was later confirmed to be true by insiders. The reports of Harrell’s passing were especially jarring considering the coronavirus pandemic but thus far it hasn’t been revealed as a possible cause of death.
Up until a day ago, Harrell was active on his social media account, posting a meme regarding how the COVID-19 situation has all but shut down the year’s activities. He was also in support of Ahmaud Arbery and was apparently active on social media.
Harrell began his career as a rapper in the duo Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, formed with his high school classmate, Alonzo Brown. The pair released a series of records that made noise in the scene but Harrell would go on to discover a knack for the business side of music.
The Harlem native crossed paths with Russell Simmons in the early 1980s, joining Def Jam Records and eventually becoming an executive for the label. In 1986, Harrell went off on his own to found Uptown Records, which went on to sign the likes of Mary J. Blige, Heavy D and The Boyz, Al Be Sure!, Jodeci, Guy, and more. Harrell is also credited with discovering Sean “Diddy” Combs, who became a powerful executive in his own right.
Paying it forward, Combs named Harrell as the vice-chairman of his REVOLT entertainment brand and there were plans of a docuseries detailing the rise of Uptown Records slated for release this year.
We’ve collected some of the kind words shared in honor of Harrell across social media, which can be viewed below.
Andre Harrell was 59. May he rest powerfully in peace.