I could not let this moment in history pass without paying respect to one of the greatest record executives to walk this earth.
It wasn’t yesterday, nor does it seem like yesterday that the presence of Mary J. Blige, P-Diddy, Father MC and Jodeci graced our ears by the radio airwaves. The records that these artists created are nostalgic for the now adults that indulged in the culture by dancing, singing and representing the style that these artists exemplified. All of these artists had one person in common, Andre Harell.
Harell was a force. He was a black man that did not succumb to the circumstances that society placed in his path to stop him. He defied all odds. Andre Harell had a significant career; rapper, college student, intern, record executive and mentor.
The 80’s and the 90’s were interesting times in America for black people. Drugs and crime were on the rise in black communities and racism continued to surface socially and politically. But despite all of this chaos that black people were enduring Andre Harell had hope, and that hope was embodied in the artist that he choose to be apart of his empire.
This empire would change the realities of so many black youth that weren’t able to experience the good life that other cultures were accustomed to. Andre Harell’s artist tapped into an unrepresented culture that was new in the eyes of America, they were young, happy, stylish and ambitious, and it felt good.
Through his artist he presented pure vocals and visuals that were not only relatable but appeared to be attainable, because his artist looked like the average person from the neighborhood.
Andre Harell gave Black urban youth a chance, something that mainstream American did not always provide because they didn’t quite understand what it meant to be “that kid” from the neighborhood that loved to dance, had style and was a tad bit ‘gangsta’ because they had to survive within their social environment.
Harell gave the “neighborhood” permission to wear that fur with your gym shoes; rock that pleated skirt with combat boots. He gave urban America permission to be themselves and evolve at the same time.
Through his business savviness, love for the culture and black people Andrea Harell changed the trajectory of lifestyles for millions of urban youth that only knew of a down trodden life that had continuously been perpetuated by media to the urban youth. He bridged the gap between Hip-Hop and R&B; basic and lavish; mediocrity and immoderate.
Andre Harell made the “neighborhood” a movie, and it was beautiful.
R.I.P Andre Harell
September 26, 1960-May 7, 2020