With the news of Andre Harrell passing away on Friday (May 8th) at the age of 59, we take a look at his plans for Tupac Shakur to appear on a popular hit TV series.
The New York native and music executive is known for founding Uptown Records in 1986. Harrell’s label was home to a teenage Mary J. Blige, and Sean “Puffy” Combs who was quickly positioned as the label’s A&R. It was at Uptown records as an A&R where Puff Daddy would discover the Notorious B.I.G. after hearing his demo tape.
Andre Harrell resume also included serving as an executive producer for the TV series “New York Undercover”. The drama series was televised via the FOX network from 1994-1999, and would go on to feature performances from artists such as Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, Monica, Boyz II Men, Erykah Badu, and Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony.
Aside from artist performing on the show, there was one particular artist producers tried to cast as a character on the series. “So many artists, Hip Hop artists were on the show. And, then there were others we tried to get on the show like Tupac. Tupac was involved with a bunch of his cases. he had the cop shooting rap. He had the rape charge,” Harrell said. “We wanted him on the show but we was concerned that of he was on the set there would be all the drama.”
Tupac’s bad rep did not sit well with cast members of the show, as they were scared of the negativity that may come along with Shakur. After speaking with Harrell in his office, Tupac asked to meet with the cast. Harrell agreed, and for three hours Tupac spoke with cast members explaining all his legal cases and why they shouldn’t fear him.
“If you were in that room, Tupac was innocent. “Not saying that he didn’t do any of the things he was accused of doing, but hearing his side of the story there was that much more love for him,” Harrell explained.
After Tupac received the green light to appear on the show, Shakur gave Andre Harrell a Thug Life shirt. Harrell would place it on his dressing room chair, and the two went their separate ways that evening.
Unfortunate events that would occur later that evening would prevent Tupac from joining the hit series “New York Undercover”. As Tupac headed to Quad Studio’s in Times Square, he was robbed and shot five times in the lobby.
Tupac’s purpose for recording at Quad Studios was for a feature on a song with Hip Hop artist Lil Shawn. Appearing on Drink Champs, Lil Shawn explained the reason behind Tupac recording the song with him.
All this was made possible without the direct knowledge of Lil Shawn himself. Jimmy Henchman a well known drug trafficker was looking to get his feet into the music industry. Although Lil Shawn made it clear to Henchman that he no longer was interested in recording music anymore, Jimmy thought otherwise. Looking to use Lil Shawn as a way to get himself into the world of Hip Hop.
Lil Shawn would find himself in the middle of Jimmy Henchman’s own motives, and Andre Harrell who wanted to cast Tupac on “New york Undercover”.
Jimmy Hechman and Andre would go on to work out their deal to where Tupac would record with Lil Shawn, and Andre would get Tupac on the series. All this without Lil Shawn knowing.
Shawn was not interested in recording the song with Tupac since the initial intentions was not about Lil Shawn from the start. Getting the call from his label suggesting Shawn to record with Tupac, Lil Shawn agreed, as he did not want to affect any of his future business deals within the industry.
Tupac would go to Quad Studios to record with Lil Shawn, and ended up getting shot, and the rest is history.
The very next night morning according to Harrell, he would become aware of the shooting by his driver. “The next morning I get picked up by the driver to go to work, and he hands me the New York Post. Pac had been shot fives times that night,” Harrell recalls. “I walked into my dressing up and there’s the shirt, and I just lost it.”
Oddly enough Tupac during an interview with VIBE magazine, Shakur stated after he was shot and headed upstairs via the elevator, Harrell was in the room with Biggie Smalls, Lil Cease, Puffy, and others.
Regardless of it all, Tupac Shakur would never appear on the hit series “New York Undercover”. Two years later Tupac would end up getting shot at again after the Mike Tyson fight in Vegas. Shakur would lose his life six days after.
Tupac’s second shooting and death in 1996 would once again affect the hit TV series, as “New York Undercover” was under pressure and advised not to include any Hip Hop related content on the show. Due to the overwhelming circumstances surrounding the series, four writers took it upon themselves to resign.