Andre Harrell CEO of Uptown Records Helped Create The New Jack Swing Sound

Andre Harrell attends the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Clarence Avant at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 9, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for NARAS)


CEO of Uptown Records. Uptown spawned the New Jack Swing sound. D-Nice just announced on #ClubQuarantine


Jodeci Mary J Blige Diddy Biggie Al B Sure Soul For Real Guy Lost Boyz Father MC Christopher Williams …all on Uptown. RIP Andre Harrell. Dj Nice revealed on his instagram live  radio show that Club Quarantine radio show that legendary Andre Harrell  59 a  music veteran music executive had die.  Harrell was  the Founder of uptown records , founder Nuamerica music. Co founder n chair of THE REVOLT MUSIC CONFERENCE . Andre Harrell and Uptown’s legacy includes: Teddy Riley Guy Heavy D & The Boyz Jodeci Mary J. Blige Al B Sure Father MC Soul For Real Christopher Williams New York Undercover (FOX TV) And gave a young Sean Combs & Biggie their first break.

Andre Harrell, founder of the influential R&B and hip-hop label Uptown Records, has died. He was 59. The cause of Harrell’s death, which was announced early on Saturday by DJ D-Nice and confirmed by media outlets, was not immediately known.

Harrell started out as half of the early-80s hip-hop duo Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde but was best known for schooling an intern, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, in the music business.

Combs, now known as Diddy, launched the careers of 90s R&B megastars Mary J Blige and Jodeci on his own Bad Boy label with his friend Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious BIG, who with his wife Faith Evans also achieved stardom.

Harrell was chief executive of Motown for a short stint, and launched other careers including that of Robin Thicke.

Harrell created  Uptown Records, where Sean “Puffy” Combs got his start in the business, who later went on to head  Motown Records .


A native of New York, Harrell started his career in music as an artist, one-half of the early rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, whose single “Genius Rap” was a minor hit in 1981. In 1983 Harrell teamed with Russell Simmons, the founder of Def Jam Records, and had one of his early experiences in the business working as a vice president and later GM of the label.


Andre left to start his own record company, Uptown Records, in 1986. Stylish, sophisticated and fashion-forward, the label played a key role in the development of the New Jack Swing style of R&B, courtesy of acts like Guy , Al B. Sure and Jodeci, as well as crossover hip-hop via Heavy D and the Boyz and Father MC. Harrell also signed the teenage Mary J Blige in the late ’80s, though her career at the label didn’t fully take off until the early ’90s, with help from Harrell’s enterprising former intern, Sean “Puffy” Combs, who was quickly elevated to an A&R position at Uptown.

Combs’ A&R  job led to him discovering the demo tape for a rapper named Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G. As the story goes, Diddy was fired from Uptown in 1993 after which he launched Bad Boy Records and promptly signed Wallace to a deal with his own label.

Harrell would later find a home for Uptown at MCA where he simultaneously developed multiple projects in film and television in the 1990s, including the movie and soundtrack “Strictly Business.” In 1995, he went on to run Motown Records as president and CEO for a brief period not long after the label’s acquisition by PolyGram.Harrell and Combs remained longtime friends and business associates and Harrell served as vice chairman of Revolt, Combs’ multi-platform music network, and a producer on its panel show “State of the Culture.”


A pioneer of hip-hop and R&B and black entertainment in general, serving as executive producer of the series “New York Undercover,” Harrell could be seen at many red carpet events on both coasts. He appears in Diddy’s 2017 documentary “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story” and, according to IMDB, had been working on a TV miniseries about Uptown that was in the  the development phase at BET  .The three-part miniseries titled “Uptown” had Harrell on board as executive producer and was scheduled to hit the airwaves in 2020.


Andre said, “What we were doing at Uptown Records was a lifestyle. We were representing like an urban chic, which we called ‘ghetto fabulous,’ and [Diddy] loved it. He loved it so much he would be walking around in the office with no shirt on, Timberland boots, and jewelry… He was art imitating life.”

“Diddy learned how to produce. And then he always had style. He was able to take his style and give it to the other artists, shape and mold them, especially Jodeci. He came up with the sagging pants and boots. He also did the first hip-hop soul remix; the “Come and Talk to Me” remix was really important at that time. He did that.”



Born on September 26, 1960, in the Bronx, New York. He studied at Lehman College where he majored in communications and business management but dropped out after three years to work at WINS, a local radio station. Soon after meeting Russell Simmons, the creator of Def Jam Records, he went to go work for the music label, and quickly worked his way up to general manager.


After meeting Dwight Myers, better known as rapper Heavy D, Harrell was eager to sign him to Def Jam Records, but couldn’t receive approval. However, Harrell believed so strongly in Heavy D’s talent that he founded Uptown Records in order to release the rapper’s first album. In 1987, Heady D’s freshman album, Living Large, went gold, but in 1989, with hit songs such as “Somebody for Me,” and “We Got Our Own Thing,” his Big Tyme record went certified platinum.



Harrell was a co-executive producer on the drama series, New York Undercover, which aired from 1995 to 1997. Most recently, he served as producer on the talk show State of Culture.

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