Andre Harrell is the Black Man Genius with Style, the Originator of Ghetto Fabulous, and the Style Keeper of Uptown Swag. Mr. Harrell, the trailblazing Hip Hop Entrepreneur, has brought to you and discovered the infectious 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, Mr. Harrell is responsible for architecting the careers of many forward-thinking black artists. His skillful sense of talent evaluation gave rise to the original the R&B bad boy band of the 90’s, the platinum-selling super group Jodeci. Andre Harrell’s keen entrepreneurial instincts debuted to the world the incomparable soulful sounds of one Ms. Mary J. Blige. Andre Harrell’s flair for attracting excellent executive-level leadership gave a young flashy A&R his start in the music business, someone named Sean “Diddy” Combs.
“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. Harrell undoubtedly has an eye for people, talent, and executives. This was once again the case with the 2002 discovery of a White Chubby kid from Bel Air that sang and admired the sultry sounds of Marvin Gaye, one Robin Thicke. Andre Harrell is a lifestyle entertainment entrepreneur, “I use things I see in different trends whether it be Rock N Roll, Punk Rock, Hollywood, Ghetto Fabulous, or Country Hip… I blend it all together to make a New America.”
Born Andre O’Neal Harrell to a supermarket foreman and a nurse’s aide, Harrell grew up in the housing projects of the Bronx, New York. He teamed up with high-school buddy, Alonzo Brown to form the successful rap duo, Dr. Jekyll (Harrell) and Mr. Hyde (Brown). The rap duo Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde enjoyed three top 20 hits: “Genius Rap,” “Fast Life,” and “AM/FM.” In 1983, Harrell met Russell Simmons, the founder of Rush Management, a company that launched the careers of cutting-edge black “street” artists like Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Whodini. Harrell quickly gained a reputation as having a “golden finger on the pulse of what’s hot in the music industry.
In 1986, he left Rush Management to launch Uptown Records, a company that would fill the void in urban black music by holding it to a higher standard. Harrell drew upon his early experiences of surfing the uptown Harlem club scene and felt he could bridge the gap between “street” and middle to upper class. Harrell demonstrated a strategic ability to package and market young black singers that he was offered a seven-year, $50 million deal to produce multimedia projects with MCA Music Entertainment Group and Universal Pictures–an astounding deal rivaled only by those offered to megastars Michael Jackson and Madonna. The nearly unprecedented arrangement opened up Harrell’s creative vistas to include film and television projects like “New York Undercover” and major motion films like “Honey” and “Strictly Business”.
In 1995 Harrell became the new president and CEO of the renowned first completely black-owned record company, Motown Records. Harrell’s new responsibilities were overseeing all of Motown’s operations: marketing, publishing, creative development, and sales for all of Motown’s music labels and other business interests such as film and television, animations, video production, and multi media productions. Harrell may not have been ready for the particular challenges of running a mega company, such as the legendary Motown. After two years at Motown, Harrell resigned. Harrell’s entrepreneurial savvy and business edge was reflective of his street-fighter sense of survival. Harrell’s success stemmed from fierce determination. So after his tenure at Motown, Harrell formed Harrell Entertainment and returned to doing what he does best…working and consulting with new artists.
In the fall of 1998, Sean “Puffy” Combs, founder and CEO of Bad Boy Entertainment, hired Andre Harrell to take over the Chief Executive duties. After a brief stint Andre Harrell departed from Bad Boy in 2000, and he started up a marketing firm called NuAmerica to help big brands (such as Pepsi) target young urban consumers; he also teamed up with his one-time protégé Babyface to launch NuAmerica Music, a music management company. Recently in 2009, Mr. Andre Harrell inked another major distribution deal with Atlantic Records for his newly developed Harrell Records. His quest to rebuild his dominance on the record industry, while finding the next R&B superstar, and struggling to stay healthy after quadruple bypass surgery is currently being documented for the Interactive One reality show “Andre Harrell: The Next Soul Superstar,” produced by Prophet From It Entertainment.