Brian Whitney
This Way For the Gas

The Man of the Moment

By - Apr 8th, 2010 01:08 am
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The intro track to Thunder Zone Volume One consists of Juiceboxxx shouting over Bruce Springsteen’s “Tenth Ave. Freeze-out” about how he isn’t going to give up or let anyone tell him he can’t do it. The young Springsteen (whom Juice has also channeled by starting his live shows playing ‘Thunder Road’) actually makes a lot of sense as a comparison for Juiceboxxx: both worked on their craft for years and refused to give up at times where many would have, both are full of love for their respective hometowns, and, most importantly, both men are painfully earnest. Like, sometimes you almost wish they wouldn’t mean it so much, but it just wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t.

Of course, Springsteen never got a shout-out from Carrot Top or Kool Keith on his records, and Juice gets both in the space of the first two tracks. “Thunder Zone” and “Juice Boy” are two solid bangers, the latter based on the beat from Cam’ron’s “Boy”, and both continue the lyrical earnestness and themes established on the first track. Everything that’s laid out in the first three tracks (technically, intro and first two tracks, but whatever) pretty much encompasses Juice’s outlook: he’s been through his trials and tribulations, he’s cut his teeth, and he is ready to go to the next level.

The mix has at least one remix of pretty much every previous Juiceboxxx single (“100 MPH”, “Sweat”, and “Thunder Jams” #3 and #5 are all covered, among others), and for the most part those remixes are decent but in no way earth shattering. One exception is the “Possible Fathers Grunge Version” of “Thunder Zone Volume 5.” The live band format manages to inject new life into the song without undercutting the sonic qualities of the original, and Juice’s rhymes don’t get lost in the band atmospherics.

Both the remixes and the new songs deal with roughly the same lyrical subject matter–namely, that Juiceboxxx is from Milwaukee and he just keeps rapping and rocking shows at the point when perhaps it may have made more sense for him logically to take a break. Labors of love aren’t about logic, though, and so off he goes, to the next show, with no second guessing, and good for him. That kind of persistence isn’t a typical quality in a lot of musicians, be they from Milwaukee or otherwise, and it’s somewhat surprising to hear him continue to rep the city so hard given the muted reception he receives here (he slyly acknowledges this on the demo version of “Never Surrender Forever”).

My personal favorite is the track “Runnin,’” produced by Javelin (whose first album comes out on Luaka Bop later this month), which contains what might possibly be the most revealing lyrical content on the entire tape. Juice starts the record by admitting he’s been “locked in his room too long” and how eight years in the rap game has pushed the boundaries of his existence. It’s a life crisis, pure and simple: at some point things change, and the things that make people happy change.  Dude is at a crossroads and it as-yet-remains to be seen what will happen next (though he did just go on a national tour, and he repeatedly insists throughout this tape that he’s going to keep on running, so it seems unlikely that retirement is in the cards.) Without knowing the next step in Juiceboxxx’s career, it’s safe to say that this mix is a nice stepping stone to whatever that may be, and here’s hoping he continues to evolve in his coming releases.

Download Thunder Zone Volume One for FREE at

Categories: Review

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