The Product
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The Product

Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Band Hip Hop


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"Singer shaped up his life"

Singer shaped up his life How I Did It * St. Louis native to preach against gangs, drugs at Shape Up program.
Publication: St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Publication Date: 30-APR-09 Format: Online
Delivery: Immediate Online Access
Full Article Title: Singer shaped up his life How I Did It * St. Louis native to preach against gangs, drugs at Shape Up program.(Health)

Article Excerpt
Byline: HARRY JACKSON JR. > 314-340-8234

When Eric James was a student at Northwest High School in St. Louis, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, empty desks on Mondays were a very bad sign.

"Sixteen people didn't come back to school during the time I was in high school," James said. They'd been killed in gang violence.

One day, St. Louis police officers delivered a "scared straight" presentation that inadvertently included the photo of a former classmate who hadn't returned on one of those Mondays.

"It doesn't hit home until you see someone in a car with 56 bullet holes," James said. The bloodied face and dead eyes in the photo, could have been his.

James was the son of a 13-year-old single mother and a 17-year-old single father who spent time in jail.

His mother's boyfriends battered him physically and emotionally. She died when she was 26, and James was adopted by his grandparents. But they lived in Walnut Park, a violent area of the city.

A street gang beat him severely when he first moved there. He joined another gang. They retaliated and the pattern repeated. That was life for several years.


James said he was lucky enough to listen to advice and bank it for later use.

Some of that advice came from a social studies teacher, Patricia Banks-Slaughter, who was known for not sugarcoating the truth.

She once told the gang members in the class they were headed for a jail cell or pine box. He mostly recalls her encouragement and that he controlled his destiny, not his past. The words changed his life.

But Banks-Slaughter felt some disappointment when James quit school in his senior year.

"Sometimes what you teach doesn't take hold (immediately)," she said. "I just go home and look at myself in the mirror and if I've done the best I can do, I turn them over to God."

James' grandfather had recognized the youngster's penchant for music, especially hip-hop. The family, including a younger brother, moved to a less violent part of the St. Louis area. His grandfather built a makeshift recording studio in the basement of their north St. Louis County home.

James began to mix music, rap and give concerts at middle-school gatherings around the area. His message was that gangs and drugs weren't the way. - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Pride Youth Leadership Conference"

“Your willingness to share your experience, message and expertise with our attendees helped to make this another successful and effective conference.” – Patti Wheater (Pride Conference) - Patti Wheater

"Triumph over Tragedy"

"He inspires others through telling his own life story of triumph over tragedy. THE PRODUCT urges his audiences to live life to its fullest and illustrates how to overcome some of the common and not-so-common struggles facing today’s youth."
- Ida Goodwin Woolfolk (Former Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools)
- Ida Goodwin Woolfolk

"Music That Touches The Heart"

"I truly believe The PRODUCT's life experiences can enhance the quality of life for anyone who exposes themselves to it. PRODUCT, was passionate, heartwarming, and he tells it like it is!" - Ms. Kathman (Speech Pathologist) Mesa Public Schools - Ms. Lisa Kathman


“Wow! What an awesome testimony of perseverance. I listened to "My Life" and so many of our kids can relate to your message.” - Johnette R. Winfrey Baton Rouge, LA (Math Specialist) - Johnette R. Winfrey


None of That
I'm A Star
I Don't Know



In the music industry, rappers make all sorts of bizarre claims. Some profess to be the best and others claim to be the hardest. On the surface, Arizona based rapper “The Product” appears to be just another MC ranting and raving about his talent. However, with The Product, it's more than that. The self-proclaimed "Changed Man" paints a vivid picture of inner city living that many of his contemporaries fail to do. With his first release, (I Don't Know), The Product attempts to set himself apart from other rappers from the southwest by offering a solid LP that displays a level of diversity not seen very often in Arizona Hip-Hop.