|Parent company||Universal Music Group|
|Genre||R&B, hip hop|
|Country of origin||U.S.|
|Location||New York City|
Uptown Records was an American record label, based in New York City, founded in 1986 by onetime rapper Andre Harrell.From the late 1980s into the early 1990s, it was a leader in R&B and hip hop. During the 1990s, aided by its A&R worker Sean Combs, it led the fusion of these two genres. Its artists included Al B. Sure!, Christopher Williams, Guy, Heavy D & The Boyz, Father MC, Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Notorious B.I.G., and Soul for Real.
In 1986, Andre Harrell, half of rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, founded Uptown Records.Its compilation album Uptown Is Kickin' It, including artists Heavy D & The Boyz as well as Marley Marl, was distributed by MCA Records. The acts who recorded on that album were collectively known as The Uptown Crew. The Heavy D & The Boyz album Living Large , certified Gold, followed in 1987. The Al B. Sure! album In Effect Mode , released in 1988, distributed by Warner Bros under Warner Music, place seven songs on the R&B chart.
Also of 1988 were the Gyrlz album Love Me or Leave Me, distributed by Capitol, and the eponymous album of Guy, a group whose Teddy Riley, a record producer, would lead the sound "new jack swing."The Guy album reached No. 1 on the R&B chart. Guy's second album, The Future , arrived in 1990. Heavy D & The Boyz' second album, 1989's Big Tyme , preceded his album Peaceful Journey , honoring Boyz member Trouble T Roy, killed by accidental fall on tour.
By 1990, Sean "Puffy" Combs began an internship at Uptown. Combs worked with newly signed acts Jodeci, Father MC, and Mary J. Blige,who altogether placed a number of singles on the R&B chart. Marking a fusion of hip hop and R&B was Mary J. Blige's debut album What's the 411? , released in July 1992, whereby she was dubbed the Queen of Hip Hop Soul. Led by her single "You Remind Me," it was certified three times platinum, honoring three million copies sold.
In 1991, Harrell was executive producer of the comedy film Strictly Business , starring Tommy Davidson and Halle Berry, as well as its soundtrack.The following year, Harrell and MCA reached a multimedia deal that eventuated in development of FOX's hit television series New York Undercover —a police drama originally named Uptown Undercover—which aired from 1994 to 1998. The record label itself was renamed Uptown Enterprises. By 1993, it was the leading urban label.
In February 1993, the MTV Unplugged live, acoustic series featured Jodeci, Father MC, Mary J. Blige, Christopher Williams, and Heavy D, resulting in release of Uptown Unplugged as both album and home video.A resulting single, Jodeci's live cover of Stevie Wonder's "Lately" peaked at #1 on the R&B chart and #4 on the pop singles chart, the Billboard Hot 100. Later in 1993, Uptown released the soundtrack to the hip-hop film Who's the Man? . Closing 1993, Uptown released Jodeci's second album, Diary of a Mad Band .
In July 1993, amid tension with Harrell, Uptown released Combs. Within two weeks, he launched his own label, Bad Boy Entertainment, while taking with him The Notorious B.I.G. Uptown promptly suffered, yet Combs was still executive producer of Mary J. Blige's second album, My Life , released at December 1994, soon certified 3x Multi-Platinum.
Increasingly dissatisfied, Mary J. Blige and Jodeci both signed to West Coast Management, the firm of Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records, based in Los Angeles. Thus, they gained double the royalty rates, more creative control, and sizable back payments.Meanwhile, the final Heavy D & The Boyz album, Nuttin' But Love , was released in 1994, and soon certified Platinum.
In 1995, Uptown's new R&B group Soul for Real's debut album Candy Rain was released, as was Jodeci's third and final album, The Show, the After Party, the Hotel . Later in 1995, Harrell left Uptown to become CEO of Motown Records, while Heavy D, executive vice president of Uptown, became Uptown's president and CEO. Prominent acts like Mary J. Blige and Jodeci signed directly to Uptown's distribution channel, the major label MCA.
By 1996, MCA along with Universal Studios, the filmmaking house, was bought by the owners of Seagram's, and became Universal Music Group. In 1997, Heavy D closed his time as CEO of Uptown, absorbed into Universal Music during 1999. As of 2020, Universal retains the catalog and the name of Uptown Records, a name inactive. In December 2019, television network BET announced production of a miniseries on the history of Uptown Records.
Mary Jane Blige is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and philanthropist. Her career began in 1991 when she was signed to Uptown Records. She went on to release 13 studio albums, eight of which have achieved multi-platinum worldwide sales. Blige has sold 100 million records worldwide. Blige has won nine Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, twelve Billboard Music Awards and has also received three Golden Globe Award nominations, including one for her supporting role in the film Mudbound (2017) and another for its original song "Mighty River". Furthermore, she also received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song, becoming the first person nominated for acting and songwriting in the same year.
What's the 411? is the debut album by American R&B singer Mary J. Blige. It was released on July 28, 1992, by Uptown Records and MCA Records. After signing a record contract with Uptown, Blige began working on the album with producer Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs. Other producers and songwriters included DeVante Swing, Tony Dofat, Dave Hall, Mark Morales and Mark "Cory" Rooney. The resulting music covered hip hop soul, contemporary R&B, and new jack swing styles.
Jodeci is an American R&B quartet with members DeVanté Swing, Mr. Dalvin, K-Ci, and JoJo. Formed in 1989 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jodeci's members began their musical careers as two duos of brothers and, after years of limited success, joined forces. After signing with Uptown Records in 1991, the group began to work on their debut album, Forever My Lady, which brought them mainstream success with the Billboard Hot 100 single "Come and Talk to Me" and the album's titular track.
Diary of a Mad Band is the second studio album from American R&B group Jodeci, released December 21, 1993, on Uptown Records and distributed through MCA Records. The album also featured the first-ever album appearances from Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Sista, two years before the latter group became known in the music industry. New Jersey rapper Redman also makes a guest appearance on the album. It was Jodeci's second album to reach number one on the R&B album chart, where it stayed for two weeks. It spawned the number 1 R&B hit "Cry for You"; the number 2 R&B hit "Feenin'", and the Top 15 R&B hit "What About Us". Despite not being released as a single, the album's opening track, "My Heart Belongs To U", was also a hit. To date, the album has sold over four million copies in the United States and six million worldwide.
Hip hop soul is a subgenre of contemporary R&B music, most popular during the early and mid 1990s, which fuses R&B, gospel or soul singing with hip hop musical production. The subgenre had evolved from a previous R&B subgenre, new jack swing, which had incorporated hip-hop influences into R&B music. By contrast, hip hop soul is, as described in The Encyclopedia of African American Music, "quite literally soul singing over hip hop grooves".
The Show, the After-Party, the Hotel is the third studio album from American R&B group Jodeci, released July 18, 1995 on Uptown Records and distributed through MCA Records. The album was recorded at Dajhelon Studios in Rochester, New York.
Love & Life is the sixth studio album by American R&B recording artist Mary J. Blige. It was released by Geffen Records on August 26, 2003. The album marked Blige's debut on the Geffen label, following the absorption of her former record company MCA Records. In addition, it saw her reuniting with Sean "Diddy" Combs, executive producer of her first two studio albums What's the 411? (1992) and My Life (1994), who wrote and executive produced most of Love & Life with his Bad Boy in-house production team The Hitmen, including Mario Winans, D-Dot, and Stevie J.
Share My World is the third studio album by American R&B singer Mary J. Blige, released by MCA on Earth Day, April 22, 1997. The album became Blige's first to open at number one on the US Billboard 200 album chart. Moreover, it is her first album where she serves as an executive producer, alongside Steve Stoute, who also shared executive producer credits on the album.
"You Remind Me" is a song by American singer Mary J. Blige. It served as Blige's first single from her debut album What's the 411? (1992). Written by Eric Milteer and produced by Dave "Jam" Hall, it was originally used on the soundtrack of 1991 comedy film Strictly Business. The song marked Blige's first top forty hit, reaching number twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot R&B Singles chart. The music video was released in 1992.
Andre O’Neal Harrell was an American music executive and multimedia producer. In 1986, recently a rapper, he formed Uptown Records, which became a leader in hip hop, R&B, and their fusion, "new jack swing." He gave Sean "Diddy" Combs his 1990 start in the business, and later was CEO of Motown Records.
My Life is the second studio album by American R&B recording artist Mary J. Blige, released on November 29, 1994, by Uptown Records. Many of the topics on My Life deal with clinical depression, Blige's battling with both drugs and alcohol, as well as being in an abusive relationship. Unlike her debut, What's the 411? (1992), Blige contributed lyrics to fourteen of the album's tracks, making it her most introspective and personal album at the time. Similar to her debut album, My Life features vast production from Sean "Puffy" Combs for his newly founded label, Bad Boy Entertainment, which was at the time backed by Arista Records.
"Lately" is a song by American singer Stevie Wonder recorded for his album Hotter than July (1980). The song reached number three in the United Kingdom, and was later covered by R&B group Jodeci and released as a promotional single for the live album Uptown MTV Unplugged in June 1993, which reached number one on the R&B charts and the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Jeff Redd is an American singer who performed new jack swing-style R&B music in the late 1980s - Early 1990s
Edward "DJ Eddie F" Ferrell is an American producer, DJ, songwriter, executive and entrepreneur. He is co-founder and partner of the rap group Heavy D & the Boyz. He is also mostly known for his various work and projects serving as the founder and owner of Untouchables Entertainment Group, Untouchables Records, numerous major label clients and their artists.
Living Large... is the debut studio album by American hip hop group Heavy D & the Boyz. It was released on October 27, 1987, through Uptown Records. The production was handled by Andre Harrell, DJ Eddie F, Teddy Riley, Marley Marl and Heavy D. The album was a success for the group, reaching number 92 on the Billboard 200 and number 10 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It sold over 300,000 copies. Living Large... is today considered to be a classic. Three singles were released: "Mr. Big Stuff", "Chunky But Funky" and "Don't You Know".
Big Tyme is the second album by American hip hop group Heavy D & the Boyz. Big Tyme is also the final album to feature bandmate Trouble T Roy, who died from a fall in 1990.
What's the 411? Remix is an album by American recording artist Mary J. Blige, released on December 7, 1993 by Uptown Records and MCA Records. Executive-produced by "Buttnaked" Tim Dawg, the album features remixes of tracks from Blige's critically acclaimed debut album by producers such as Sean "Puffy" Combs, Teddy Riley, Eddie 'F' Ferrell, Craig Mack, Heavy D, The Notorious B.I.G., and K-Ci Hailey. The album received favorable reviews and debuted at number 118 on the US Billboard 200 and at number 22 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
"Be Happy" is a song by American singer Mary J. Blige. It was written by Blige, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Arlene DeValle, and Jean-Claude Olivier from duo Poke & Tone for her second studio album, My Life (1994), while production was helmed by Combs and Olivier. "Be Happy" contains an instrumental sample of the song "You're So Good to Me" (1979) by musician Curtis Mayfield and a re-sung vocal portion of the record "I Want You" (1976) by Marvin Gaye.
The discography of Jodeci, an American R&B group, consists of four studio albums, three compilation albums, thirteen singles, and thirteen music videos. The group was signed by Uptown Records after submitting a demo tape during a trip to New York. In 1991, they released their debut album, Forever My Lady, which peaked at number eighteen on the Billboard 200, and topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in the United States. On April 28, 1995, the album was certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album produced five singles, three of which topped the US R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: "Forever My Lady", "Stay", and "Come and Talk to Me". The last of these was certified gold by the RIAA.
The Who's the Man? Soundtrack is the official soundtrack to the 1993 film Who's the Man?. The album was released in 1993 on Uptown/MCA Records. The soundtrack peaked at thirty-two on the Billboard 200 chart in 1993.