August 14, 2019 — After three decades behind bars, Michael (Harry O) Harris, one of the most infamous west coast crime bosses of all time and the co-founder of the iconic Death Row rap music label, will walk free from prison. The 57-year old Harry O ran a massive cocaine empire out of Los Angeles in the 1980s and financed the Death Row label in the 1990s with a near $2,000,000 investment made from his prison cell to gangbanger turned hip hop mogul Marion (Suge) Knight.

Harris was arrested for kidnapping and attempted murder in June 1987 and narcotics trafficking in August 1988. He was convicted in both cases. The kidnapping and attempted murder charges stemmed from an incident where an employee of his was caught stealing, taken into the mountains of Antelope Valley and miraculously survived being shot several times and left for dead.

While Harris was facing his two cases, he was producing a play on Broadway starring a then little-known Denzel Washington called Checkmates. Harris was the First African-American to ever produce a Broadway play. He also owned large amounts of real estate, s successful limo and luxury car rental company and a number of Beverly Hills hair salons.

His kingdom of cocaine stretched from South Central, where Harris and his brother David grew up, to the suburbs of the Valley and beyond. Once he conquered the L.A. market, Harry O expanded into other states around the country, creating distribution outposts in Michigan, Illinois, Maryland and Louisiana. David Harris died in a boating accident in the spring of 1988.

Suge Knight knew Harry O from their mutual affiliation with the Bloods street gang. In 1991, Harris gave Knight 1.5 million dollars to start Death Row Records, a name Harris coined and a label he would exert tremendous influence upon via phone calls and visits even while locked up. Death Row spawned from Harris’ Godfather Entertainment and went on to release a number of historic albums from west coast rap luminaries like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur, introducing the “G-Funk” sound of the early 1990s responsible for propelling the hip-hop genre into the focal point of mainstream pop music. Knight toasted Harry O at a glitzy Beverly Hills launch party for the Death Row label attended by the west coast hip-hop industry elite and caught on tape by the FBI.

Th 54-year old Knight is currently in prison for manslaughter related to a vehicular homicide in 2015 where the former Death Row label president targeted a man he believed wronged him out of money connected to his portrayal in the film Straight Out of Compton. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

The groundbreaking Death Row Records was put to rest in 2005 when Harry O’s ex wife won a crippling federal law suit for retroactive proceeds from the $18,000,000 albums sold based on the million and a half bucks of seed money Harris provided and wasn’t properly compensated for. The label was shut down shortly thereafter.

Harris has been serving his time at a federal correctional facility in California since his release from state prison on his kidnapping and attempted murder case. He’s scheduled to report to a half way house in Texas on Monday. Over the past several years, Harris helped start Second Chance Ministries in San Antonio and intends on continuing the prison rights activism he began doing while incarcerated.

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