The hip-hop and R&B community is mourning the loss of Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell, who has died at the age of 59.
“Whether we knew it or not, he had such a huge influence on the R&B/hip-hop my generation grew up loving,” Legend tweeted. “He signed and mentored so many great artists, made so much great music happen, helped shape the culture.”
News of Harrell’s death was first announced by DJ D-Nice on his Instagram Live early Saturday, and sources have separately confirmed it to Billboard. Details of his death are not yet known.
Harrell’s impact runs deep, stemming from the success he accrued as the founder of Uptown Records in the 1980s, to grooming future music mogul, Sean “Diddy” Combs. At its peak, Harrell’s roster was oozing with talent, ranging from Heavy D and The Boyz to Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Guy, and at one point, Notorious B.I.G.
“Today I lost my hero, my mentor, and friend Andre Harrell @andreharrell,” Jodeci’s K-Ci wrote on Instagram. “I am truly hurt and at a loss for words. He introduced me to a whole new culture, and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. I will forever be grateful. Rest in peace my friend, you will be missed. My love and condolences to the Harrell & Uptown family.”
Jodeci member JoJo also commented on the passing of Harrell. “I’m speechless. I’m in disbelief. Andre was a wonderful man … he started my career,” JoJo said in a statement. “The world would have never known me without him. He started a lot of people’s careers and I owe that man a lot. He will be very missed; it’s gonna take a while to get over this.”
See more tributes below from Russell Simmons, 50 Cent, Chuck D, Bryan Michael Cox and more.
Statement from Universal Music Group:
“We mourn the loss of Andre Harrell, the founder of Uptown Records, one of R&B and hip-hop’s most significant labels, where he molded a distinct sound and launched the careers of many seminal artists who continue to influence music today. Andre’s countless contributions to Universal Music Group include serving as President and General Manager of Def Jam Recordings, CEO of Motown Records and as a successful film and television producer at MCA. UMG and the entire music industry have lost a truly visionary member of our community and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”