Andre Harrell, Music Executive Who Discovered Diddy, Dead at 59
Harrell was best known as the founder of Uptown Records
Published May 09, 2020Music executive Andre Harrell has died at age 59.
The news was broken last night (May 8) by DJ D-Nice during his Instagram Live DJ set and confirmed by hip-hop TV network Revolt, which was founded by Sean "Diddy" Combs and where Harrell served as vice-chairman. No cause of death has been provided.
Harrell was born in Harlem, NY, on September 26, 1960. As a teenager, he was one-half of rap duo Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, achieving minor success with tracks like "Genius Rap." After dropping out of college and working for a local radio station, Harrell began a career at Def Jam Records, ascending to vice-president and general manager within two years, before leaving the label to start Uptown Records.
At Uptown, Harrell was best known for signing Mary J. Blige and hiring a teenage Combs, then known as Puffy, as an intern in 1988. Combs later worked his way up to talent director, developing acts including Blige and Jodeci.
In 1992, Harrell and Uptown partnered with MCA Music Entertainment Group to develop films, TV shows and movie soundtracks. Around this time, Combs was fired from Uptown due to tensions between him and Harrell, and Combs brought recent discovery the Notorious B.I.G. with him to his newly founded Bad Boy Records.
In 1995, Harrell left Uptown for a short stint at Motown Records, before forming his own Harrell Records as an imprint of major label Atlantic. Harrell and Combs later reconciled, and when Combs founded Revolt TV in 2012, he hired Harrell as vice-chairman.