THE PRODUCT

THE PRODUCT

BandHip HopSinger/Songwriter

The Product has made a name for himself simply by being himself. Not with gimmicky, quirky facades, not with hype and hoaxes. He has earned the respect of his fans and his peers because he is a man who reveals himself in his entirety – childhood and all.

Biography

“As a child I remember having a burning desire to want to be acknowledged, and thinking it would be impossible to have a life, other than the one I was cursed with”. The life that I have created for myself today was fueled by the hell I experienced yesterday. This is proof to me that even in the worst of times we still have choices. In my head, I can still hear the echoes of those who believed that I was nothing, a thug, and that I would die as another “black statistic” who blamed all of his misfortunes on everyone else. The worst thing is that, for a while at least, I believed them, and that I would die as another “Product of the Environment”. However, with the help of loved ones, and a longing for a better life, I became a “Product of Choice” instead. Eric Antuan James was born in St. Louis, Missouri to a 13-year-old girl named Sandra Vershell James. His father was a 17-year-old boy named William Melton, who was in and out of the penitentiary all of James’s life. After Eric was born, he and his young mother traveled from house to house, pathetically moving from one abusive relationship to another. After many years of struggling with the fact that she would never be able to experience childhood, Sandra James accepted Christ, re-married, and died at the age of 26, two days after James’s 13th birthday. He was then adopted by his loving grandparents James T. and Bessie M. Wafer, and moved to the crime infested community of Walnut Park, in North St. Louis. It was here that James was given yet another reason to consider his life a “living hell”. James continued to be physically and emotionally battered throughout his young life, feeling alone, and isolated most of the time. With the exception of his grandfather, the only male role models he encountered were drug dealers, womanizers, and thugs. At 18 years of age, Eric was “jumped in” to Chicago’s largest black gang, the Black Gangster Disciples. It was a small consolation that Eric was accepted without any of the typical and unlawful rituals. It was not too long before he was fully caught up in the gang life. Although James has never killed anyone, he was considered one of the top ranking “folks” in the area. James’s five year rivalry with bloods from Plover St., initiated his decision to become a banger. Knowing the pain and the potential that James had within, his grandfather overheard James expressing himself through rap music one day. He was amazed that James had found away to release the pain and misery that had poisoned his heart. Soon after this, Eric’s grandparents seized an opportunity to help him and his brother. They moved the family into a nice suburban neighborhood and his grandfather built a professional recording studio in their basement. Eventually, Eric realized that he was in desperate need of a change in his life. A very influential person in his life was his high school History teacher. With her encouragement, Eric was exposed to a new world, the world of education and knowledge. Driven by his love for music, and with the support of his grandparents and his History teacher, a new door opened for Eric. A door opened to a world of choice that James would have never imagined, not even in his wildest dreams. Eric soon pursued his dream of becoming a rap artist and went on to perform concerts to middle school students across the St. Louis metropolitan area. He used his talents to spread his anti-gang, anti-crime message to at-risk youth in St. Louis. Two prominent newspapers in St. Louis wrote articles chronicling Eric’s life. Eric then went on to serve in the United States Army for three years and was awarded the Army Accommodation Medal, and (2) Army Achievement Medals. He earned his bachelor’s Degree while serving in the army. Eric is an avid reader, believing that knowledge is the key to a successful life. He has committed hundreds of hours to community service and has received honors for doing so. In 2002, Eric moved to the Phoenix area to pursue other goals he set for himself. He has earned two Masters Degrees in education while living in the Phoenix area. Currently, Eric is a middle school teacher and plans to continue making a difference with his campaign against gangs, drugs, and youth crime. “At times, I do find myself gazing back into my past, and I can feel the pain from the little boy that so desperately wanted to be validated, that wanted to escape from his loneliness, but the feeling doesn’t last long. I now have family and friends that I can turn to when I reach an obstacle that are hard to overcome, or when I feel myself regressing back into those old feelings of hopelessness. No one should ever underestimate the resiliency of the human heart. I had the courage to follow my dreams and I never gave up on myself. I always knew that there was more to life than my dismal experiences in childhood. Motivation, fortitude, and a strong belief in self are absolutely critical when trying to attain your goals. I have made it through some te

Lyrics

My Life

Written By: The Product

Verse ONE
As a kid don’t remember being hugged much
I often question if God really loves us
The dark side of the hood made us curious
Through the years it became so obvious
No sweat this is the norm
Greeted by roaches when the lights come on
Every single night mom had to work late
Partied all night she’d forget my birthday
Never knew my dad he’s in the penitentiary
Another broken home guess it wasn’t meant to be
The kids in the hood I don’t think that they like me
Cause every other day another kid wanna fight me
I don’t understand why life’s so tough
It’s like a nightmare and I can’t wake up
Can’t escape the madness childhood cursed with sadness
Somewhere I see God Laughing
This Is My Life

Chorus
Life is pain and life is fear
Life is hurt and life is tears
Life is joy the ups and downs of life
This is my life

Verse TWO
Just a young teenager accustomed to a life of danger
Homicide ain’t know stranger
So many homies I know fell victim to violence
But Lord we just can’t stop dying
Seems like everywhere I look some mother was crying
It’s hard for us to stay in touch
I know life in these streets don’t mean to much
But the hood forced me to be tough
So I stroll with handguns dickeys and air ones
And live my whole life without trusting know one
Dead at sixteen couldn’t even imagine
Till I saw my best friend in his casket
Just a year ago we were living life so lethal
Now he’s laying here so peaceful
Guess what goes around comes back around
Playgrounds transformed to battle grounds yeah

Chorus
Life is pain and life is fear
Life is hurt and life is tears
Life is joy the ups and downs of life
This is my life

Verse THREE
We don’t fight handguns the weapon of choice
What’s gotten in these boys?
So much aggression
Gotta leave the house with a weapon
It’s our way of solving our problems
Cops roll through man we just duck and dodge ‘em
Probably won’t see tommarah
Didn’t wanna be poor I’d be just like them
So I sold drugs just like them
To get fast money gold chains it was all a contest
But so many young men died in the process
I was proud that my father was a convict
Cause role models back then were convicts
Spread eagle on the back of a squad car
It’s a miracle I made it this far
Drugs murder a life of abuse
Is what I had to live through
This is my life

Chorus
Life is pain and life is fear
Life is hurt and life is tears
Life is joy the ups and downs of life
This is my life

Love & Struggles

Written By: The Product

Verse 1
September 14, 1972 in a place where dreams diffuse
I’m so confused cursed with a life that I didn’t choose
27th city home of the blues you heard the news
Mom was 13 when she had me we lived life sadly without my daddy
I often seem to make her mad see
And out of frustration she’d yell and smack me
Mom was very naïve in a position where we couldn’t achieve
Circumstance make it hard to believe
I wear my heart on my sleeve no destination
Like the homeless we roam the street
Momma holds me close
She looks at me and tells me that she loves me most
Some will bring false hope and when they do
Follow your heart and don’t trust them folks

Chorus 2x’s
Same thing but a different day
Don’t care what they say about me
Clear my mind wipe my tears
I gotta be strong

Verse 2
I lived a life of misfortune
Family members trying to tell my mom to go and get an abortion
I bet she thought of it often
But couldn’t stand the thought of her 1st born flushed down the toilet
Happiness was elusive
The only love to shown to my mom by a man was abusive
It’s a struggle for a single family
Since I look like my father my mom couldn’t stand me
She did the best that she could
And used every opportunity to get us outta the hood
I guess it’s all to the good
Every lesson learned was validation that I understood
As a youth I had to earn my keep
So I watch the O.G.’s sell drugs in the streets
When momma would catch me she would have a fit
Screaming I won’t let you be a statistic

Chorus 2x’s
Same thing but a different day
Don’t care what they say about me
Clear my mind wipe my tears
I gotta be strong

Verse 3
All the kids use to laugh and hate me
When I didn’t wanna fight yo momma would make me
It was tough on a boy bad luck and failure routine that we couldn’t avoid
In difficult times opportunity lies
And 1 day I and momma will rise
Blessings may be in disguise
Helpless as I’m soaked by the tears she cries
She eased the pain with her smile
But realize the hurt that she caused in the heart of her child
She used to cry all night
And as a result contemplating to take her life
As her hands would rise she would look to the sky
And ask the Lord for some reasons why
And as he replied you will suffer no longer
Cause the pain only helps you get stronger

Chorus 2x’s
Same thing but a different day
Don’t care what they say about me
Clear my mind wipe my tears
I gotta be strong

Discography

My Life - The Struggles of A Changed Man

Set List

30 - 45 minutes. I can go longer or shorter, it would depend on the type of venue.