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Andre Harrell is known for the discovery of Sean "Diddy" Combs

Andre Harrell, a legendary veteran music mogul and founder of one of the most popular hip-hop and R&B record labels, Uptown Records has died at the age of 59. As of press time, there is no confirmation of the cause of his death.

The announcement of Harrell's sudden demise was relayed by DJ D-Nice during his Instagram live program Club Quarantine Series on the early morning of May 9. No official statement has been issued yet.

Andre Harrell is best known for building up the career of Sean "Puffy" Combs under his record label. The music executive formed Uptown Records in 1986 and under its wings saw the start of the careers of several more music artists in the hip-hop genre such as Mary J. Blige, Father M.C., Lady Kazan, Al B. Sure!, Jodeci, Lost Boyz, Heavy D & The Boyz, among many others.

The music mogul was a native of Bronx, New York.  Harrell broke entry into the music world in the early '80s as the other half of the hip-hop rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde with Alonzo Brown.  The pair released several singles some of which reached Billboard's Hot R&B Songs chart. "Genius Rap" was their biggest hit that peaked at No. 31 in 1982. 

Harrell's interest in music was further pursued though he had set his mind towards a different direction. He met and teamed up with Russell Simmons, Def Jam records founder in 1983.  It was in this record company where he learned all the ropes and worked his way all the way up to hold the position as vice president.  Soon after, the became the general manager of the label.

Confident with all the experience and backed-up with the exposure he gained, he decided to leave the company to establish his own label.  In 1986, he started to build and run Uptown Records which is based in New York City.   The R&B and hip-hop label soon rose to its fame with its unique, sophisticated, fashion-forward style.  Uptown Records played a significant role in the development and popularity of the New Jack Swing style of R&B through musical acts of Guy, Jodeci and Al B. Sure.  Heavy D and the Boyz and Father MC took on the crossover hip-hop.  

Mary J. Blige was signed up by Harrell when she was still in her teens way back in the late '80s.  But her career started to pick up in the early '90s through Sean "Puffy Daddy" Combs who was working as an intern at that time.  

Diddy, as he was more fondly called, soon took on a full-time responsibility under Harrell's label as a talent director.  Under his tutelage, he helped Mary J. Blige and Jodeci to grow more in their craft and soon became R&B megastars in their own rights.  He produced "Hip-Hop Remix" of Jodeci's 1992 hit "Come and Talk to Me." Harrell though dismissed Diddy from Uptown in 1993. Even with this development, Harrell and Diddy remained to be close friends.

Uptown was taken over by MCA, its distributor partner in the 1990s, and did multiple projects in film and television. He moved on to become the president and CEO of Motown Records in 1995 briefly before it was acquired by PolyGram.


The news of his untimely death shocked the music industry with several music artists paying tribute to him on social media.  Mariah Carey, Viola Davis, and other big stars have poured out their praises to Harrell.