Thursday, July 18, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: Juiceboxxx - Beyond Thunder Zone

Never one to be caught standing still, it's probably unwise to press play on any new Juiceboxxx release with too many assumptions or expectations. The Milwaukee bred MC has a history of jumping feet first into new sounds and, respectfully, wrecking up the place, absorbing the best of rap, punk, dance and, as on last year's I Don't Wanna Go Into The Darkness LP, classic heartland rock a la Bruce Springsteen into his signature style of amped up American music. Beyond Thunder Zone, his new free mixtape, adds a heavy dose of the Beastie Boys and other 80s/90s hip hop staples, but, as always, it's Juice's personality that comes through.

Out now on his Thunder Zone Entertainment label, the 15 tracks naturally allude to what he's been listening to lately, but effortlessly synthesize it with all that's come before, and with his off-kilter flow and lyrics, which as usual center around living life to the max and hard lessons learned on the road. His sense of humor has caused many to write him off over the years, but thankfully it's still intact, most obviously on the SNL inspired closer, but also infused into more introspective tracks like "Never Surrender Forever" and the Big Star sampling "Hold On". The balance between partying and pathos is spot on, and in either mode, Juiceboxxx shines. 

It's a confident, invigorated collection from start to finish, and Juice had quite a bit of help getting it there, calling in a cadre of talented collaborators including Fat Tony, Schwarz and White Fang among others (even the artwork comes courtesy of Lil Ugly Mane). The most crowded track, "Pump It (Remix)" is probably the mixtapes's best, a bona fide monster of a summer party jam, but between other standouts like the infectious "1-900 JUICEBOY" and the catchy Wyclef Jean take-off "Gone Till November", the whole is built for repeat listens. Who knows where Juice will go next, but if you can expect anything, it’s that it’ll be well worth following.

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