In the age of documenting some of music’s most pivotal entities, BET is stepping into that ring again with its latest series addition. The network gave the green light to a three-part miniseries that’ll tell the story of Uptown Records.
Founded in the late 80s by longstanding music industry executive Andre Harrell, the label helped shape and promote the careers of Mary J. Blige, Al B. Sure, Heavy D & the Boyz, Jodeci, The Notorious B.I.G., and served as a springboard for Diddy to launch his own imprint, Bad Boy Records. The program will be executive produced by Jesse Collins who worked behind-the-scenes on the network’s hit biopics The New Edition Story, and The Bobby Brown Story.
“I am thrilled to partner with BET Networks and Jesse Collins Entertainment to share my story, the rise of Uptown Records and successful black entrepreneurship, and the management and cultivation of some of the most iconic artists to come out of the late ’80s and ’90s hip-hop, R&B and soul music era,” Harrell said in a statement.
In a 2012 interview with Mega Diversities, Harrell shared what encouraged him to embark on a journey in the music business.
In 1985, I was the road manager for LL Cool J. We did a show in New Jersey. At the time, his first album Radio was released and had critical acclaim with its hip-hop ballads and hybrid sounds. It appealed to a younger music audience who were instrumental in the LP’s success. I thought it was interesting that he became one of the first rappers to crossover. The album went platinum. The record helped establish both with Def Jam as a label (with a distribution deal with Columbia Records the following year) and LL Cool J as a rapper. Seeing the commercial success of the LP made me realize the benefits of being in the business side of the industry. In addition, Radio contributed to the displacement of the old school hip-hop by the new school genre (where artists tended to compose shorter with a self-assertive style). This pivotal moment in the history and the culture of rap made me see that it was time to go behind the camera and find a new style for my future artists.
Uptown will premiere in 2020.