August 14, 2019 — After three decades behind bars, Michael (Harry O) Harris, one of the most infamous west coast drug bosses of all time and the co-founder of the iconic Death Row rap music label, will walk free from federal prison. The 58-year old Harry O ran a massive cocaine empire out of Los Angeles in the 1980s and financed the Death Row label in 1990s with a near $2,000,000 investment made to gangbanger turned hip hop mogul Marion (Suge) Knight from his prison cell.
Harris was convicted of drugs, racketeering, money laundering and attempted murder at a 1988 trial. The attempted murder charge stemmed from an incident where an employee was caught stealing, taken into the mountains of the San Fernando Valley and miraculously survived being shot several times and left for dead.
While Harris was facing his case, 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 real estate, successful limo and luxury car rental companies and a number of Beverly Hills hair salons.
Suge Knight knew Harris from their mutual affiliation with the Bloods street gang. In 1991, Harris gave Knight 1.7 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 released historic albums from west coast rap luminaries like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur and introduced the “G-Funk” sound responsible for propelling the hip-hop genre into the focal point of mainstream pop music.
Harris has been serving his time at a federal correctional facility in California. He’s scheduled to report to a half way house on Monday.
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