Andre Harrell has always been a trailblazer. Be it as one half of early 80s rap duo Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where the pair rocked sharp suits as opposed to the obligatory jeans, sports jerseys and baseball caps. And then in the mid 80s-mid-90s as president of Uptown Records, an imprint on MCA, which kick started the whole ‘ghetto fabulous’ movement and assisted in ushering in the mainstream’s unapologetic love affair with black culture as we currently know it, from the music, the fashion, the lifestyle and the swag.
The label also changed the music industry forever by introducing acts such as Mary J Blige, Jodeci, Guy, Heavy D and the Boys and Al B Sure, who, aside from becoming a success in their own right and carving their place in music history, became a blueprint for countless acts who followed. Uptown was also where Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing sound first began to thrive. Andre is also responsible for giving Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs his start in the music industry when he hired him as an intern at Uptown Records in 1993. And contrary to urban myth he didn’t fire him, that was Uptown’s then General Manager Mark Siegel – but that’s another story for another time.
But back to Andre, who also bought us blue-eyed soul crooner Robin Thicke, and his most recent carnation as CEO of the relatively new Harrell Records, where acts include r&b male quintet Hamilton Park.
The primary reason for doing this interview is he is currently on the look out for some more acts to add to his stable. Which is why he has embarked on a fantastic and innovative global talent search project with Blazetrak, a web platform that provides direct video access to the world’s top professionals. From now through to November 30th, 2011 Andre will be accepting auditions via Blazetrak.com from artists and aspiring producer/songwriters. He will personally review each and every submission, and all entrants are guaranteed a video response/critique directly from Andre himself. Then, after reviewing all the entries, on 10 January, 2012 he will announce the winning recipient of a record deal or production/publishing deal. Already, the talent search is gaining some serious buzz, with multiple tweets going out from Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Jermaine Dupri, Russell Simmons and Robin Thicke on Twitter. Here’s what Andre had to say about the project, his history and impact in the music industry and the many artists and figures whose careers he is responsible for kick-starting.
My oh my! Why can’t peeps just let classics be classics, and leave them the f**k alone? We spotted this video over at thatgrapejuice.net today and it made for interesting viewing. Former B2K front man Omarion’s attempt at covering Jodeci’s Come And Talk To Me, renaming it Come N F**k Wit Me. SMH!
I just knew this wasn’t going to do an ounce of justice to the original before I even clicked play… Check it out for yourself below and then reacquaint yourself with the original (also below) and experience the same pain in my ears I am currently feeling. What was Omarion thinking???? And is that the proper video???? I knew times were hard, but damn!
WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO THE ULTIMATE R&B SHOW
This Valentines I Miss The Old School has teamed up with leading club promoter Queen of Soul to offer music lovers the chance to tickets to the Ultimate 90′s R&B concert at London’s premiere venue – the indigO2 at the 02.
Promising a night of classic R&B from a time when music really mattered, the sizzling-hot show will feature smooth vocal group Silk as the headline act in their first UK concert in over a decade.
The group will be performing all their hits, including chart-topper ‘Freak Me’, and will be joined by Kut Klose and Pamela Long, former lead singer of platinum-selling girl group Total.
We have TWO pairs of tickets for the concert, taking place on February 16, to give away. For a chance to win a pair, simply answer the following question:
Damn, as if the members of one of my all-time favourite groups, haven’t embarrassed themselves enough already. You’ve probably guessed, by the above picture, that I’m talking about Jodeci, one of the greatest r&b groups to ever do it, and 90s hits such as Come and Talk To Me, Cry For You, Forever My Lady, and the K-Ci and JoJo smash, All My Life, stay rotating on my iPod. But I say ‘Damn” as someone who has attended one of their car-crash comeback shows in recent years, and also as someone privy to ‘that’ Youtube video – you know the one where JoJo collapses clean on stage, and K-Ci doesn’t bat an eye-lid, like its the most normal thing in the world?
I was an avid magazine reader growing up, following on from my comic phase in my pre-teen years. The first one I really got into was Smash Hits, in the mid 80s. I think I was first attracted to it when I saw Five Star on the front cover and the promise of the song words for their song System Addict or something like that! Lol! This was the days before the internet, when you could look them up on there. Okay so Smash Hits was the bomb.com, and was the single mag that made me want to be a music journalist. I also loved the posters, which I adorned by bedroom wall with. Kylie Minogue was the first artist that I did that with. I remember one daycoming home to find my little brother had ripped them all down out of spite. I was so vexed, and gave him the ass-whooping of his life! LOL!
When I was in secondary school a lady called Alex Kadis was the editor. She was good pals with the likes of NKOTB and Take That and I always wanted her job! I remember that the offices for the publication was in Carnaby Street (London’s west end) back then, and I often contemplated stalking her. Luckily I never did. After leaving Smash Hits Alex Kadis managed Mark Owen for a bit. I recently looked her up and she is now working with Simon Cowell as part of Susan Boyle’s management team (Random!!!).
Sabrina Washington, 31, is the former lead vocalist for now defunct British girl band Mis-Teeq. The girls racked up a number of top ten hits and a couple of platinum albums from 1999- 2005, but now after a few years out of the spotlight and recent memorable stint on ITV reality TV show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Sabrina is pursuing her career as a solo artist.
This group may not be deemed by many as ‘old school’, but their first album Jagged Era was actually released in the 90s (1998).
Twins Brandon and Brian Casey, Richard Wingo and Kyle Norman were discovered by Kandi Burruss from Xscape. She introduced them to Jermaine Dupri, who signed them to his So So Def imprint on Columbia Records in the mid 90s. JE came about at the right time, as after the likes of Jodeci and Boyz II Men faded from the spotlight there wasn’t really an r&b group which combined great voices with well-written timeless love songs. But JE bought that back in the late 90s – they were up on their songwriting too – and I am certainly thankful. In this post I gotta talk about the first two albums mainly as they are the oldest and more importantly my favourites.
There are so many old school songs that I could choose to honour Valentines Day, too many to ever fit on one post. So instead I decided to choose one song that epitomises what love means to me…
Okay, so I cheated a bit and picked two in the end, but hey…
Jodeci recently made their way back onto the music scene via the song and video Knockin’ Your Heels Off, a collaboration with fellow 90s s r&b group H Town. While the song isn’t bad per se, the video has had the Internet a buzz due to the deteriorated appearance of the group, most especially Jodeci’s former resident pretty boy Mr Dalvin. Imisstheoldschool.com are surprised people are…err… surprised about his form as this is not the first time we have had a look at how the past years have treated Jodeci. Their UK show a couple of years ago, coupled with less than flattering pictures, which have been circulating the net from time, already gave us that idea.