Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell has died, according to Billboard and other sources. Details are if his death are not yet known, but Harrell’s passing was first announced by DJ D-Nice on his Instagram Live early Saturday morning (May 9), and via an Instagram post soon after that.
Raised in the Bronx, New York, Harrell started out as half of the early-’80s hip-hop duo Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (with Alonzo Brown). Their biggest hit was “Genius Rap” in 1982. Harrell soon moved towards the business side of music.
Harrell began a position at Def Jam Records, but soon started his own label, Uptown Records, which would be the home to Heavy D & The Boyz, Al B. Sure! and Guy (Teddy Riley’s original group).
Sean “Diddy” Combs got his start as an intern of Harrell’s at Uptown, and moved up the ladder there, working with megastars like Mary J. Blige. Harrell fired Combs in 1993; from there, Combs started Bad Boy Records.
Harrell and Combs remained friends, and Combs eventually hired Harrell as the Vice Chairman of REVOLT, the music television network/multi-platform brand started by Combs in 2013.
Last year, it was announced that Harrell was working with BET on a miniseries based on the Uptown Records story.