Ghetto Fabulous: Andre Harrell Created a Culture of Black Excellence (Billboard)

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The night Andre Harrell died, I DM’d my editor at Billboard to tell him that whatever they were going to do for Dre, I was raising my hand. I knew a slew of outlets’ headers would read “… who discovered Sean Combs,” and Dre’s impact was so much bigger than that; larger and farther reaching than many outside of the entertainment industry knew. I did my part to pay tribute to originator of Ghetto Fabulous.

Andre on The Breakfast Club Talking About His Purpose

“My goal is to bring real black America — just as it is, not watered down — to people everywhere through music, through films, through everything we do.”

This was the manifesto of 32 year-old, newly-minted entertainment mogul Andre O’Neal Harrell, in conversation with the L.A. Times in 1992 about his $50M multi-media deal with MCA Records.

Harrell, who founded Uptown Records, died on Friday, May 8th of an apparent cardiac episode at the age of 59. As the music industry mourns this unexpected loss, a refrain keeps echoing through posts and tributes: Andre’s impact on music and culture was never properly celebrated.


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