Andre Harrell, the visionary behind Uptown Records and one of hip-hop’s most noted figureheads and culture creators has died. He was 59.
Harrell passed away late Thursday night from heart failure according to his ex-wife, Wendy Credle. DJ D Nice made the stunning announcement on Instagram on Friday night.
A Bronx native, Harrell founded Uptown Records in 1986 after a stint in the group Jeckyll & Hyde as well as working with Russell Simmons at Rush Management. He helped usher in a new era of cool with the likes of Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Al B. Sure!, Heavy D, Teddy Riley, Guy and more. Perhaps his most memorable contribution is discovering a young intern from Howard University named Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Harrell’s resume is staggering over the course of his near four decades in music. From producing hit albums and being the brains behind one of the great black labels of the late ’80s and early ’90s to helping create hit shows such as New York Undercover and more.
“We are mourning the loss of a cultural icon, Andre Harrell, a chief architect of the modern hip-hop and R&B sound,” BET President Scott Mills said in a statement. “Andre was tremendously excited about sharing the origin story of Uptown Records, and its pivotal role in the urban music landscape. With his tragic passing, BET is committed to ensuring that the Uptown limited series event tells both the Uptown story and Andre’s story – that of the incredible music innovator, man and friend to so many.”