Usher, Mariah Carey, John Legend & More React to Andre Harrell's Death

Andre Harrell
Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Andre Harrell attends The Whitney Bieninal at The Whitnery Museum on March 4, 2008 in New York City.

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.

Artists like K-Ci Hailey, Usher, Mariah Carey, John Legend, Missy Elliott and Snoop Dogg took to social media on Saturday (May 9) to pay tribute to the late music mogul.

"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."

Sylvia Rhone, Chair and CEO of Epic Records, tells Billboard that Harrell "was the consummate renaissance man who personified New York City. He was one of the true visionaries of black culture who created superstars and defined trends across the spectrum of entertainment, whether it was music, film, TV or fashion. He had an amazing ear, a keen eye for talent, and an exquisite sense of style and taste. When he walked into a room he lit it up and owned it, making everyone around him better with one huge smile.  His energy was truly infectious and his drive was tireless. He was one of a kind!"

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."

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In our last conversation on Wednesday about the Uptown mini series, we argued about timing on script notes. I kept telling you to wait on giving your notes to the writer for Night 3 but you were yellin “I gotta give them now!” I said “You gotta wait until we get the new drafts of Nights 1 and 2 so you can see how it all works together!” You said “We can deal with that later! I’m good with all that! There are some things I need to tell her about my life now!  She gotta understand the energy behind this sh*t! We gotta get the ending right! As soon as I tell her, then, we good.” I said “F*#k it. I been here with you before. Do what you want.” You heard my tone and said “Hold on DC (one of his nicknames for me) What’s your concern?” I told you my concerns and you said “Oh, I got you! I won’t f*#k the money up! We on the same page with the script! Now let me get the f*#k off the phone so I can do what I do!” I laughed and said “whats that?” And u said “I inspire greatness in artists!!” We had one other call and then a crazy text exchange that ended with you saying that I passed “the trust test” and that you were good.  I didn’t even know I was taking a test.  I laughed.  Now it’s all clear. You were truly one of a kind. You inspired black excellence before it was a hashtag. You wanted all of US to experience what you called “the champagne life.” You were screaming about the power of the culture waaaaaay before anybody else! I love you Dre! We are going to tell your story the right way.  You inspired everyone that is working on this film and left a piece of you with all of us. I also know that somehow…someway…you will still get me the rest of your notes on the script, the cast, the director, wardrobe…everything! When we drop Uptown, I know you will be looking down on all of us saying “Hold up! Hold up! They about to show Uptown! We need the bottles right, the room right.  And I need the best seat in the house! Because all of this is me!” The fingerprints of Uptown can be found in EVERY black owned company in entertainment today. Period! RIP to my friend and mentor, Andre Harrell @andreharrell. UPTOWN miniseries coming soon to @BET!

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Dude. #AndreHarrell man. He gave you the best soundtracks of your life man and you didn’t even know it. We never gave him his flowers. He redefined the party! Def Jam was the artform. Bad Boy was the attitude Death Row was the muscle But without even knowing it? Uptown was ALWAYS the party. I’m sitting here going through my crates STUNNED at the amount of six degree to Andre records I’ve spun weekly on a regular basis for the last 35 years yo. The is a staggering loss. We never gave Andre Harrell his flowers. Name em: Al B Sure/Heavy D & The Boyz/Guy/. I mean mentoring Diddy alone brings in Jodeci/BIG/Mary J/Father MC/Christopher Williams—-and even in those names the success with THOSE artists come Missy/Timb/Neptune’s But let’s not stop there: first time we really paid attention to Halle Berry was in a Harrell film called Strictly Business Let’s throw “Candy Rain” in there or Lil Shawn’s “I Made Love”—-I may be dating myself but man Mgruff’s “Before We Start” got MUCH play round my way. Jeff Redd (who brought Blidge to the label) had a banger with “You Called And Told Me”—-“Touch It” from Monifah STILL bangs to this day. & back to Diddy, I’m absolutely w/o a doubt certain that he feels his success is also Harrell’s success so in a round about way there is no Bad Boy w/o Harrell. (Lemme also remember Daryl Chill Mitchell’s “Hip Hop’s Here To Stay” another classic uptown jawn. Horace Brown too..... Too Many Classics Let’s not forget NY Undercover & all the clever music moments in each ep. We never gave him his flowers. This isn’t even half of his achievements nor does this even bring to light the people’s lives he changed or his loved ones left behind. He literally introduced a new sound to the world (the first new jack swing projects were on Uptown)—-wait hold that——his label changed music TWICE because hip hop soul’s music picked up where New Jack left off and on the same label. Such a short time to paradigm shift music TWICE!!!!!!!! Damn man. We never gave him his flowers man.

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R.I.P to Andre Harrell God Bless him.

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