Andre Harrell Founder Of R&B label Uptown Records dies at 59
Andre Harrell, an innovative music executive who in the late 1980s founded Uptown Records, a crucial bridge between the worlds of hip-hop and R&B, and who gave the first career break to Sean Combs, who became one of hip-hop’s signature moguls and global ambassadors, died late Thursday night at his home in West Hollywood, Calif. He was 59.
His ex-wife, Wendy Credle, said that the cause was heart failure and that Mr. Harrell had had heart problems for some time.
In the early to mid-1980s, hip-hop was growing prodigiously, and Mr. Harrell was at the center of the genre as a rapper and an executive. But his vision for the music wasn’t always in line with his peers’ — he preferred a splash of sophistication and an approach that would speak to older and younger generations alike.
When he founded Uptown Records in 1986, he created a home for artists who melded hip-hop swagger with traditional R&B smoothness, who had sleek surfaces and hard edges. For almost a decade, it was one of the most musically important and financially successful record labels in the country, building the careers of Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Al B. Sure!, Guy and many more.