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Remembering Andre Harrell

Andre Harrell, the founding father of hip-Hop Soul, past on May 8, 2020. The legendary pioneer famously produced numerous amounts of number 1 hits and platinum albums. It’s hard to think where black music would be at without Andre. He invested his time, energy and passion into his artists. Andre Harrell accolades include a pioneer 80s rap group. Working at Rush Management. The Founder and president of Uptown Records. President and General Manager of Def Jam Recordings and CEO of Motown Records. A successful black film and television producer. Friday in his West Hollywood home, Harrell passed due to heart failure, according to his ex-wife Wendy Credle. Andre is survived by his brother Greg, his father Bernie, and his twenty-five-year-old son, Gianni, who he described as “his best friend.” 

Andre Harrell Younger life

Harrell’s extraordinary rise to his pivotal role in the music, film, and television industries success start in Sept. 26, 1960 Harlem, New York. Born Andre O’Neal Harrel to Hattie and Bernie, a nurse’s aid and supermarket foreman. At young age Dre, had a confident and entrepreneurial spirit despite growing up in Bronx public housing projects.

“ Do something that makes you feel happy, so it doesn’t feel like working. My dad worked hard at the produce market in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, but he didn’t love it so he was unhappy. That experience made me move towards something I really wanted to do, because otherwise I would feel trapped like him.” 

“I remember I wanted to take a girl out from school, so I needed to make some money. I went to school in Manhattan’s West Village, and every day after taking the subway I would walk by a messenger service that needed help. So at 15, I became a messenger, just so I could be able to pay for a date. I also used to sell candy for junior high school drives, and once I sold so much candy that I won a bike. I sold about $500 worth back in 1972, so in today’s dollars something like $3,000. It was at that moment I knew I had the gift of gab.”

andrell harrell gifAfter graduating from Charles Evans Hughes High School in 1978, Harrell attended Baruch College. He then transferred to Lehman College, where he majored in communications and business management. However, after three years, he dropped out and went to work selling air time for a local radio station.

“I was working by day as an account executive in radio, and by night as a rapper in a group called Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.”


Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, 1980s hip-hop group consisting of Andre "Dr. Jeckyll" Harrell and Alonzo "Mr. Hyde" Brown. #Old SchoolHipHop #HarlemWorldCrew

At age 16 in 1976, Harrell formed a rap group with Alonzo Brown called DR. JECKYLL & MR. HYDE. Coming off of Harlem world records in 1981, Profile records released Genius Rap. First record that was labelled under Jeckyll and Hyde. At the time Profile records never wanted to put out a DR. JECKYLL & MR. HYDE album. When the label agreed to do so, Andre and Alonzo had to pay out of packet to record the album while Profile did the distribution. Fast life and AM/PM was one of the best Profile records, one of the best pumpkin beats and one of the best songs by Jeckyll and hyde. Billy bill, Curtis Blow best friend, wrote fast life with Larry Smith on the bass. In 1985 they came out with their LP The Champagne of Rap.

DR. JECKYLL & MR. HYDEThe image of Jeckyll and hyde was the clean businessmen ‘suits and ties’ persona. Later on they would conquer the business world in entertainment and music. 

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Jeckyll and hyde was all throughout the movie Krush Groove(1985). With several artists all performing in for small roles, it gave audiences an early and entertaining look at how business was conducted before the CD and final cassette was theirs for the taking. Additionally, it featured performances of classic Def Jam records, which was instrumental in boosting the popularity of both the artists and the label.

1981 Genius Rap

1982 doing the do – DR. JECKYLL & MR. HYDE


1982 The Challenge. A challenge to Vanity 6, Nasty Girls.

1983 Gettin’ Money

1984 Here comes that beat pumpkin & the profile all stars

1984 Fast Life – AM/PM

1985 The Champagne of rap

Uptown Records

russel simmons and andre harrell

Harrell met Russell Simmons in 1983 and worked for Rush Management, a company that launched the careers of legendary artists like Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Whoodini. Within his two years at Rush, Harrell became vice-president and general manager.

 “I was only making $200 a week, and when I hired Lyor Cohen (now YouTube’s global head of music), I decided to split my salary with him. We used to share a desk, and I could see his potential: He used to talk all day about hip-hop in his Israeli accent. I thought, “This dude’s going to be big, because he’s so in love with this stuff.”Andre Harrell LL Cool J

In 1986 he left Rush Management to launch Uptown Records under MCA. He dedicated the music for the type of lifestyle he grew up in. Andre named the label after New Yorkers’ term for Harlem, Bronx and Mt Vernon. 

“I wanted hit records that make you feel a certain sexy way,” Harrell told New York in a 1995 cover story, “records that would get a pretty girl to dance with you at 2 a.m. even if you weren’t great-looking. Girl-meets-boy, boy-meets-girl records.”

Click Here for the Full Timeline on Andre Harrell’s Uptown Record Label.

“Mr. Champagne and Bubbles”

The man and mogul Mr. Andre O Harrell as “Mr. Champagne and Bubbles”. The official life of the party. Andre Harrell is the Black Man Genius with Style, the Originator of Ghetto Fabulous, and the Style Keeper of Uptown Swag. Mr. Harrell brought sounds of some of the biggest names in music. From the ‘Big and Sexy’ persona of Heavy D to the New Jack Swing sounds of the Male R&B group Guy. He is responsible for architecting the careers of many black artists. Harrell’s skillful sense of talent gave rise to most prolific Jodeci, Ms. Mary J Blige, Sean “Diddy” Combs and many more.andre harrel Puff daddy

“He’s a curator of flavor. He understands swag and flavor! Dre is my musical soul mate,” says the Mogul Mentee Sean “Diddy” Combs. Andre Harrell’s flavor reshaped the music industry in the early 90’s scoring a number of chart-topping hits with a more ‘Hip Hop Soul’ sound. From the heart throbbing, sexy crooning of Al B. Sure and Christopher Williams. To the hip hop smooth sounds of Father MC. Mr. Andre Harrell undoubtedly has an eye for people, talent, and executives.

Andre Harrell film and television producer 

Fast forward to 1991. Andre began branching into film, starting with the movie Strictly Business. The film crosses views of the diversity and black urban culture in America, unscrupulous real estate investors, and a skyscraper that may or may not get sold.

Harrell’s creative vistas to include to television. Uptown Records thus was renamed Uptown Entertainment. Out of this created Fox’s hit crime television show NY Undercover. Credited to being the first urban Hip Hop/ Cop drama on television. The showed aired from 1994 to 1998 starring Malik Yoba, Michael DeLorenzo and Lauren Velez.

In 2003 Dre produces Honey. Where he launched the career of another famous actress, Jessica Alba, by casting her in her the starring role. A sexy, half Black and Latina hip-hop dancer in New York’s East Harlem who dreams of making it big as a music video choreographer.

Andre Harrell CEO of Motown 

Autumn of 1995 Andre left Uptown to become the chief executive officer of Motown Records. He brings shelved artist Horace Brown along. Motown Records was owned by PolyGram at the time. As the elder statesman of Uptown Dwight Myers, aka Heavy D, steps in Andre’s place as CEO of Uptown Entertainment. CEO of PolyGram Alain Levy was advised to hire Harrell based on his track record of Uptown Records at MCA in hopes to put Motown back on the map.

Motown Records Prior History 

By the mid-1980s, Motown was losing money. Berry Gordy sold his ownership in Motown to Music Corporation of America (MCA) and Boston Ventures in June 1988 for $61 million. Jheryl Busby, the successor of Motown Records, sued MCA to have its distribution deal terminated, and began releasing its product through PolyGram. PolyGram is Dutch entertainment company music label. From 1988 to 1994 PolyGram obtained Island Records, A&M Records, Motown Records and Def Jam Records. PolyGram then became the number one music company in the world. They would remained in this position until MCA bought them in 1998.

Andre Harrell, as CEO of Motown Records, oversaw the careers of Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Queen Latifah. He also launched the careers of 98 Degrees and Mario Winans. It was an advantageous five-year deal worth an estimated $30 million in salary and bonuses. $20 million was paid on signing. However, with the rise of such young black record companies as Bad Boy, Death Row, LaFace, So So Def, TrackMasters and Aftermath, Motown seems more likely to remain as a nostalgic brand name. Since the 37-year-old executive, Mr Harrell arrived at Motown, Levy and Harrell have been at odds. Harrell stunned PolyGram executives by the amount of money he spent on self-promotion. Which included full-page, color ads in trade magazines. In August of 1997 he was removed as CEO of Motown Records by Levy and PolyGram President Roger Ames.

Andre Harrell is credited for increasing the amount of executive compensation for black music executives throughout the industry.

“ I want to show kids what can be achieved if they never take no for an answer.”   

Andre Harrell Legacy

andre harrell russel simmons p diddyAfter leaving Motown, Andre became president of Bad Boy Records overseeing the careers of Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, 112, Carl Thomas, and many more. 

Andre created and produced the benefit concert, Urban Aid 4 Lifebeat at Madison Square Garden televised on BET and MTV. He continued this work alongside Bono and Bobby Shriver by introducing the (RED) campaign for HIV/AIDs awareness to the urban market. 

Andre founded Nu America Records and launched the career of one of today’s leading vocalists and chart-toppers, Robin Thicke.  He served as an executive producer on Robin Thicke’s and Pharrell William’s 2013 hit song “Blurred Lines.” 

In 2013, Harrell became the vice chairman of Sean Combs’ multimedia company, Revolt TV Network. Dre’s first project was leading the inaugural Revolt Music Conference in Miami. Harrell focus on business development, outreach and strategic partnerships. Also, created opportunities for Combs Enterprises with technology companies, brands, and the music industry.

In partnership with BET and Jesse Collins Entertainment, Harrell announced late last year that the production of a 3-part miniseries on the rise of Uptown Records, which is slated for release in 2021.

When his day came, Andre said, “Listen, if they ain’t playing Frankie Beverly and Maze’s Before I Let Go” at my funeral, guess what, I ain’t going.”

Andre Harrell Tributes

Andre Harrell made many Lifelong friends

Click here to see Andre Harrell photo gallery on Essence.com



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And André would turn to me and say “See nigga, I told you I was hot! Lol miss you So much❤️🙏

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Tributes to Andre Harrell


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Document our culture Dr jeckyle ❤️

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My Tribute to a dear friends @andreharrell

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