Andre Harrell, a legendary music executive responsible for influencing the careers of an award-winning roster of successful artists, reportedly passed away May 8. 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. But 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 went on to work at Def Jam Records and quickly rose in the ranks to become a vice president and later GM of the iconic label.