CD Review: J.U.S. “Food Stamps and Financial Aid”

Justin Harmon, aka J.U.S. is a 24-year-old rapper. He was born in Wisconsin and now lives in Lakewood. His album, “Food Stamps & Financial Aid,” was released earlier this year and is available for download at Reverbnation.

The title track starts things off with a tale of facing financial struggles with the help of federal government assistance. “I gotta couple hundred dollars on this EBT card/ instead of a month in jail I’m finally free now…….just got a big check from Sallie Mae TGIS/ thank God it’s Saturday.”

“Let It Out” is a strong track. The music has a pleasing melody, while the lyrics provide some insight into Harmon’s outlook on life. He relates that he had no father or brothers in his life and that on days when he needs a lift, he opens his Bible. “My thoughts are deeper than the ocean floor/ right to my hands got open sores/ hoping they don’t open doors/ I ain’t a moler/ but I know the score/ all I need is a Bible, pen, pad and my vocal chords.”

“Heavy Artillery” has J.U.S. coming across with much bravado. “I’m the captain and the general/ busting off of you imbeciles/ thinking you invincible/ stopping hell in a chemical.” It conjures images of urban mayhem with sampled sounds of car tires squealing and gunshots.

J.U.S. even displays some lyrical cleverness. “And I ain’t even trying to lead you on/ but this mission’s like Luke Ridenour trying to be LeBron/ my game’s on I’m like James Bond on a secret mission.”

Two of the stronger tracks are collaborations with Takeshia Seward, a singer/songwriter based in Seattle. On “Circles,” J.U.S. addresses a woman with whom he has been in a stormy relationship. “You gonna be the death of me/I’m telling you, you telling me/ every day we fight all we missing is a referee.”

Seward then sings about how J.U.S. is with another woman, and she is with a new man.

“Goodtime” is a real party song. Seward’s vocals add a good R&B flavor to the tune.

The album cover artwork by Shawn Farrow exemplifies the title in bright colors. In one panel a young male adult is standing at a counter to receive his student loan check. In the other he is shown using his government issued card to purchase a carton of milk in a store.

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