As the Hip Hop and R&B community is well aware, Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell died on Thursday (May 7). According to The New York Times, his ex-wife Wendy Credle said he passed away from heart failure at his home in Hollywood Hills, California.
The 59-year-old is survived by his son Gianni Credle-Harrell, his brother Greg and his father.
DJ D-Nice first mentioned the news during an Instagram Live session on Friday night (May 8), which started to spread like wild fire across social media. After all, Harrell was a legend in the music business.
— MAXWELL (@_MAXWELL_) May 9, 2020
After getting his label start with Russell Simmons at both Rush Management and Def Jam Recordings, Harrell founded Uptown Records in 1986 with the intent to bridge the gap between Hip Hop and R&B. For nearly a decade, the label thrived and helped launch the careers of Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Al B. Sure! Guy and more.
“I was all over the country, all over the world,” Harrell told Vanity Fair of that time. “I was 28 years old. The dough was flowing. I bought a house. Bought a BMW. Two. Was happy. It was the beginning of the game. I was crazy happy.”
Without Harrell, Sean “Diddy” Combs never would have become the successful Hip Hop mogul he is today. The music executive gave Diddy his first big break when he hired him as an intern at Uptown in the early ’90s. After quickly rising in the ranks, Diddy started doing A&R, working with Blige and Jodeci to lend them some “Hip Hop credibility.”
But in 1993, Harrell fired him and although Diddy attempted to get his job back, Harrell refused. Diddy later speculated he “didn’t want two kings in the castle.” Armed with the knowledge he’d gained working for Harrell, Diddy founded Bad Boy Records and the rest is history. But the two remained friends — in fact, he was at Diddy’s 50th birthday party last December.
Naturally, the Hip Hop and R&B community and many other celebrities came out in droves to mourn the monumental loss, including Simmons, Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, Quincy Jones, Ice Cube, Cool Kids’ Chuck Inglish, Viola Davis and John Legend.
Check out some of the reactions below.
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Heartbreaking – No words, my best friend ? always compassionate, good-hearted, full of love and.. what a beautiful legacy he leaves in this world… All the inspiration, direction and support he gave to so many… So many can say they are successful because Andre Harrell gave them their start. He was so beloved because he made his living uplifting others… We celebrate him in his passing because we were so blessed for his presence… He gave everything he had. God makes the best plans R.I.P @andreharrell
Why Andre ??? My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying. He was an amazing friend and I will miss him forever. ?
— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) May 9, 2020
RIP to my little bro, Andre Harrell…Gone way too soon, but a life lived well & a lasting imprint on our business that can’t be argued. pic.twitter.com/xTitn1z3Ap
— Quincy Jones (@QuincyDJones) May 9, 2020
R.I.P to Andre Harrell God Bless him. pic.twitter.com/KMhEv6GHr2
— 50cent (@50cent) May 9, 2020
One of the most brilliant leader that the Culture has ever produced. We will all miss Andre Harrell more then we can measure. pic.twitter.com/Rb9eNTCwuC
— Ice Cube (@icecube) May 9, 2020
Andre Harrell AND Little Richard in the same day is nuts #RIP LEGENDS
— Rah Digga (@therealrahdigga) May 9, 2020
RIP Andre Harrell. Whether we knew it or not, he had such a huge influence on the R&B/hip-hop my generation grew up loving. He signed and mentored so many great artists, made so much great music happen, helped shape the culture
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 9, 2020
RIP Andre Harrell…thank you for the gift of so many incredible artists. Gone too soon.❤ pic.twitter.com/DRcxWJFFIy
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) May 9, 2020
Andre Harrell really laid the vision of black identity in the mid 90s we reminisce about.
All of it.
— CHUCK INGLISH (@Chuckisdope) May 9, 2020
Andre Harrell The Originator who kept us all in tow. ??? pic.twitter.com/lfx30QvHuA
— Naomi Campbell (@NaomiCampbell) May 9, 2020
So sorry to hear this news.
André Harrell was a longtime friend and music legend responsible for artists like:
Mary J Blige
Al B Sure
Soul For Real
Rest In Peace.
— Holly Robinson Peete (@hollyrpeete) May 9, 2020
RIP Andre Harrell. ? pic.twitter.com/w4q2x3j6kc
— Mad Skillz (@SkillzVa) May 9, 2020
Andre Harrell AND Little Richard. I'm going back to bed.
— Felonious Munk ?? (@Felonious_munk) May 9, 2020
Rest In Paradise Andre Harrell.
Here’s A Visual Of His Stance On Artist Development, Kanye West, How Black Women Control Pop Culture & More ??? pic.twitter.com/QrkftfZD4S
— DJ First Class™ ? (@1DJFirstClass) May 9, 2020