The music world is beginning their weekend mourning the loss of a major cultural influence in hip hop and R&B during the 1990s.
Andre Harrell, a legendary music executive responsible for influencing the careers of an award-winning roster of successful artists including Diddy, Teddy Riley, Jodeci, Mary J. Blige and Heavy D and the Boyz, reportedly passed away May 8.
The cause of death has not been revealed.
The news of Harrell’s passing was announced by DJ D-Nice while spinning for fans during his Club Quarantine set on Instagram Live last night.
During Harrell’s storied career he was one of the chief architects of a new wave of R&B music laced with hip hop flavor and swagger, called New Jack Swing. Founding Uptown Records in 1986, the music icon worked with Guy and producer-performer Teddy Riley, Al B. Sure, Jodeci, Heavy D and the Boyz and Father MC. Harrell also signed a then teenage Mary J. Blige.
Perhaps his most notable achievement was his eye for talent when he hired an enterprising young intern named Sean “Puffy” Combs who he quickly promoted to an A&R role at the company. This role led Diddy to discover and sign the Notorious B.I.G.
Harrell, a native New Yorker, began his career as a rapper in the duo, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. He later worked at Def Jam Records and quickly rose in the ranks to become a vice president and later GM of the iconic label.
Now many in hip hop and Hollywood are expressing their sadness over the passing of a music icon.