"Youth is not a stage in life. It’s an attitude. It’s an expression of will, imagination, and emotional identity. The victory of courage over disheartenment. The victory of a spirit of adventure over idleness." - Marcus Aurelius
"It's gonna be incredible. We're gonna give everybody that's been buying our records a real show, something they've never seen before,” said Dr. Dre of the Up In Smoke Tour, a massive West Coast hip-hop tour that transpired in the year 2000. The line-up was a West Coast hip-hop head's wet dream—Kurupt, Ice Cube, Warren G, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, and an N.W.A reunion set. A legendary tour, the kind that leaves an impression long after the show ends.
Harry Parslow was born in 1997 in Bristol, England, before eventually moving to Weston-super-Mare. He was only 3-years-old when the Up In Smoke Tour was dominating venues across the United States. Through the wonder of technology, however, a concert can still be experienced without actually being there. While in a secondhand store, on a whim, Harry purchased the tour’s DVD, and nothing was the same.
When Harry was 14, he made the brash decision to skip school and travel 40 minutes to Bristol, England because Xzibit was having a show. After watching the Up In Smoke Tour DVD what seemed like millions of times, he couldn’t afford to miss Xzibit; this fearless decision led to his first hip-hop concert ever.
Harry was so new to hip-hop shows that he arrived hours ahead, the very first person in line. Not only was he in a part of town that wasn’t home, he spent hours waiting. The beauty of adolescence is the thrill of throwing caution to the wind and focusing only on making your deepest desires come true. No amount of waiting could discourage the fact he had arrived and would be watching one of his favorite artists perform.
Before Xzibit even graced the stage, though, Harry’s reckless, impromptu trip was already life-changing thanks to a conversation with a member of Xzibit’s security team that caused the wheels of destiny to begin turning. Harry was just a curious kid intrigued by life on the road, a natural interest given the context that a tour DVD had provided. The general, but genuine questions about touring with a famous rapper might annoy some, but a saint of a security guard answered all his questions.
There’s no way Harry could’ve known that his exchange began to plant seeds in the mind of a 14-year-old who didn’t have a desire to be a doctor, lawyer or fireman, and was already dreaming of a life on the road documenting artists on tour. Instead, it brought clarity to Harry, there was no longer any question what he wanted his future to entail. If you didn’t think Xzibit’s security guard's heart was made of gold, the fact that he gave Harry access to the post-show meet-and-greet only confirms he beats 24 karats.
In the three years since that first show, Harry put all his energy into becoming a videographer. Along with a friend, Harry would spend hours watching the diary footage uploaded by Xzibit’s DJ and saw that as a way to join the tour, travel across countries, and document the moments unseen.
He made up his mind that going on tour with an artist was the goal.
As it turns out, skipping school to attend a concert 40 minutes from home was a minor risk compared to what Harry did next. At 17, Harry had a second chance to connect with Xzibit but would have to fly across the pond for this once in a lifetime encounter. Since it was always his passion to work with Xzibit, instead of giving into uncertainty, Harry took out a student loan to fund his plane ticket to Los Angeles. From what he told me, this was an incredible gamble.
Before departing England, Harry asked Xzibit’s radio producer, his contact in X to the Z's camp, for his studio address in L.A., but was told he wouldn’t be given the address until he landed―possibly a test to see if he would arrive, and he did.
From just being a fan to being invited on a fishing trip by Xzibit himself, I’m not surprised Harry confessed to me this was one of the best days of his life. The two immediately hit it off, which lead to a job in marketing and advertising and some graphic design work for one of his favorite artists.
Working with Xzibit was already a blessing, but after a couple of months, the veteran rapper called and invited Harry on a 20-date European tour. At 18-years-old, four years removed from the first time they met, his dream was coming true. A young British kid went from watching a DVD to being on the road with a West Coast legend.
These days, Harry is one of the founders of Tour Life, a company he started with two college friends that produces tour footage for artists. Annie Mac, The Game, DJ Premier and Hopsin have all worked with this close-knit company. They’re growing, and this year they’ve moved into a new office. All young guys—the oldest member is only 20—but they’re passionate and are happy to be living their dreams.
Harry reached out to us after reading our piece on Miles Konstantin, the young man who went from running a Childish Gambino fan site to working with Gambino on the Pharos festival, and another product of being able to work alongside one of his favorite artists. What I like about Harry's story is how he was prepared to risk it all for his dream to come true. It took just one rap concert for him to know what he wanted out of life, and he chased that goal with all he could.
It's human nature to get the itch, the tingle, the sensation that inspires the defiance of rational thinking and pushes you to live solely in a moment that may change your life. Don’t be afraid to chase your dream down dark, uncertain rabbit holes.
Being daring enough to run into uncertainty is an ingredient that could make your life extraordinary.
By Yoh, aka Stay In School Unless It's For A Rap Concert aka @Yoh31.