Condolences were pouring in Saturday morning after it was reported that legendary music executive Andre Harrell had died overnight at the age of 59. Harrell was not only responsible for some of the biggest names in urban music — and music overall — but also for some of the culture’s most iconic moments over the years.
According to Bossip, D-Nice announced Harrell’s death while he was DJing on Instagram. However, Harrell’s cause of death was not immediately reported.
His cryptic final post on Instagram — posted on Friday — will likely be discussed for a while as he seemed to he implied he was “leaving tomorrow,” though it also appeared to be a tongue in cheek message about how terribly the year 2020 has been going.
Harrell is widely known for being responsible for starting Sean “Diddy” Combs‘ amazing career in music by hiring him first and an intern and then promoting him to an A&R at Uptown Records, the record label founded by Harrell. Diddy has called Harrell a mentor who helped facilitate the careers of 1990s icons whose names include but are definitely not limited to: Jodeci, Mary J Blige, Heavy D and a young Biggie Smalls who would go on to become better known a The Notorious B.I.G. Harrell would later move on to serve as president and CEO of the legendary Motown Records, were he continued to work with Mary J and Heavy D & The Boyz as well as sign upstart artists like Al B Sure, Christopher Williams, Guy, Father MC and The Lost Boyz, to name but a few.
He was also at one time a rapper himself as one-half of the 1980s group, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde. The duo that was labelmates with the likes of Run DMC after being signed to Profile Records produced a couple of memorable singles, including “Genius Rap” released in 1981.
Aside from music, Harrell was also helped develop and serve as an executive producer for the hit TV show, “New York Undercover,” which began in the mid-1990s and many times featured music of the artists that Harrell either worked or was working with at the time. He also produced the cult classic film “Strictly Business,” which was released in 1991.
He and Diddy remained close through the years. Most recently, Harrell held the position of vice chairman of Revolt, Diddy’s successful multimedia music company that includes a TV station.
Because of that mark he left behind in Black music and with the artists that he worked with, they were they main ones posting messages of condolences on social media as they grappled with the loss of their friend, mentor and co-worker.
While many people Saturday morning were waiting for Diddy to break his silence about the death of his mentor, scroll down to see some of the heartfelt tributes that were still being left as America woke up to discover that the legendary Andre Harrell had died.
May he Rest in Power.
#MusicSermon’s cornerstone is New Jack Swing, and while Teddy gets credit for the music, Andre was key to the culture. Puff’s career lore has overshadowed Dre, but he was the original purveyor of fly.— Naima Cochrane (@naima) May 9, 2020
The culture just lost a true founder & originator.
Such a tragic loss for the music industry and for all of us. Andre's genius paved the way for so many of the kings and queens of hip hop and R&B. Sending my love to his family and friends during this difficult time. https://t.co/vdA26AGFgr— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 9, 2020
😔LEGEND your name sits high. You molded the most ICONIC R&B/Hiphop artist in MUSIC! I met you in the 90’s & you asked me to write 4 Taral Hicks & everytime you saw me you told me to keep writing! Your accomplishments speaks for itself but YOU THE PERSON is who WE LOVE🕊Rip💜 pic.twitter.com/S1gjdf9lKR— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) May 9, 2020
Why Andre 😢😢😢 My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying. He was an amazing friend and I will miss him forever. 😢— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) May 9, 2020
Rest In Paradise Andre Harrell.— DJ First Class™ 🏁 (@1DJFirstClass) May 9, 2020
Here’s A Visual Of His Stance On Artist Development, Kanye West, How Black Women Control Pop Culture & More 🕊🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/QrkftfZD4S
For anybody that didn’t know..— JJ (@FLEXIN3X) May 9, 2020
Mary J Blige
Al B Sure
Soul For Real
...all on Uptown.
RIP Andre Harrell. pic.twitter.com/uYnkJlbZEo
Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde— To Pimp A Tweet (@HipHop4Everyone) May 9, 2020
RIP Andre Harrell, a legend that has done so much for Hip-Hop and the community as a whole. 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/WaAo71VJVj
“So figure out what you love, and then get to work. Then, when you are my age, you can sit back and call the shots.” - Andre Harrell— Blame The Label (@blamethelabel) May 9, 2020
Rest In Peace to a pioneer. pic.twitter.com/ystPc1HR5n
May he Rest In Peace. 😢🌹 pic.twitter.com/gxRHukIlcu— Glittering Mariah 🎅 (@glittering_mc) May 9, 2020
RIP Andre Harrell...thank you for the gift of so many incredible artists. Gone too soon.❤ pic.twitter.com/DRcxWJFFIy— Viola Davis (@violadavis) May 9, 2020
shocked and saddened. so glad we got to meet. rest in peace andre harrell ❤️— Ella Mai (@ellamai) May 9, 2020
Ohhh noooo!— Holly Robinson Peete😷🥰 (@hollyrpeete) May 9, 2020
So sorry to hear this news.
André Harrell was a longtime friend and music legend responsible for artists like:
Mary J Blige
Al B Sure
Soul For Real
Rest In Peace.
Im so numb. Rest In Peace Andre Harrell 😔— PETEROCK.COM (@PeteRock) May 9, 2020
RIP Andre Harrell (September 26, 1960 - May 8, 2020) 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/8Hj3ytyXWE— ⚡️ Furious Styles ⚡️ (@somanystyles) May 9, 2020