Andre Harrell, the veteran music government who died on Might 7 of coronary heart failure on the age of 59, performed an unlimited function in creating the world-changing tradition that hip-hop is as we speak — and, by extension, all R&B, city and pop music. Over the course of his 30-plus 12 months profession, and notably through the golden period of his Uptown Information, Harrell helped carry upward mobility to hip-hop, launching the careers of Mary J. Blige, Jodeci and New Jack Swing titans like Man and Heavy D, but additionally Sean (a.ok.a. “Puff Daddy” and “Diddy”) Combs, with whom he labored for a few years, most lately on the Revolt community, and as political activists, on each President Obama’s marketing campaign and extra lately, within the run-up to the 2020 election. (Diddy posted a transferring tribute to Harrell on Monday, and public figures starting from Mariah Carey to Kamala Harris did so over the weekend.)
Kevin Liles, cofounder and CEO of 300 Leisure (the place he’s helped to launch the careers of Younger Thug, Megan Thee Stallion, Migos and lots of others) was shut with Harrell for greater than three a long time. Harrell was a mentor and a job mannequin to him — each started their careers as rappers — and though they by no means really labored on the identical firm, they had been allies professionally, all through Liles’ years at Def Jam, Warner Music, as an artist supervisor and now at 300, however extra importantly as buddies and mutual followers. “He was a couple of years older and achieved quite a lot of issues earlier than me,” Liles says. “However he’d all the time say, ‘It’s your present — I’m simply in it.’”
Liles remembers his good friend under (as informed to Jem Aswad).
There have been quite a lot of nice administrators of our tradition, however the Martin Scorsese of cool was Dre. He was so enthusiastic about cool — “Oh, no, you can’t have that shade on with out one thing complimenting it” — and what “ghetto fabulous” meant and the way it wanted to be introduced to the world in order that the common particular person would perceive it. If he was sitting proper right here and also you stated, “Clarify ghetto fabulous,” he would say, “Nicely, I’m gonna take you again to 1920-whatever” (laughing).” I’m not saying he created any of it, however he might need coined the time period and he undoubtedly coined it as a lifestyle. “It’s okay to be in Harlem, however you’ve bought to be in St. Barts too!” Dre’s power is in each hip-hop and R&B document that’s been made for the reason that ‘80s.
Andre had this trait — you didn’t simply see him, you felt him. He didn’t simply have a dialog with you, he informed a narrative; he wasn’t simply within the room, he was the room. I used to be an enormous fan of his when he was in [Harrell’s ‘80s rap group] Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, however the first time I met him was via [Def Jam Records cofounder] Russell [Simmons] and Puff — I can’t actually discuss Andre with out speaking about them too. It was via their friendship and their items to one another that I actually realized what it means to be loyal, to have arguments after which focus on them, and to be true, lifelong buddies. We’d have labored at totally different corporations, however we had been all one household as a result of we had been spawned by the identical factor: hip-hop.
One among his best items was writing the script: Who, what, how it’s, and simply as importantly, what it’s not. Don’t put your self in positions the place you possibly can’t be who and what you might be. “No no no, Kev, no, that simply don’t work.” Then, when it did work, “Oh my goodness! Did you see how he walked into the room?”
Through the Obama marketing campaign we created a crew we known as the Tremendous Buddies — Dre, Puff, Russell, Jay[-Z], Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, me and a complete slew of others. After we had the chance to work on the marketing campaign to end up African-American voters in swing states, Dre stated, “Now, this is ghetto fabulous at its most interesting!” (Laughter)
Most lately, he was tirelessly working for the political agenda of African-Individuals and to ensure we’ve a voice going into the 2020 election — to his final breath, amidst all of the hell that’s occurring, it was his mission. The final time I talked to him was in regards to the election, we had been realigning our objectives and the way none of us ought to decide to any candidate with out having an agenda for us. He was adamant, “What number of extra of us must die? This isn’t about tomorrow, that is about now!”
These occasions are further onerous for everyone, however Dre all the time stated, “Nonetheless the occasions are, we’ve bought to discover a means!” And in that, I discover inspiration and love and steering.