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Juiceboxxx's Thunder Zone Volume One

Last week, Milwaukee’s Juiceboxxx dropped his first mixtape, Thunder Zone Volume One. Topping out at 20 tracks, the mixtape could be a turning point for the oft-misunderstood rapper from the heartland.

Often mistaken for a nerdcore artist because of the color of his skin and nasaly flow or met with confusion by concert-goers struck by his performances unawares, Juiceboxxx has garnered a following over the past few years for his cathartic live sets and party-friendly music. Now JB’s got something for those confused by his general presence or just plain hate himThunder Zone.

If collaborations with Spank Rock and Ninjasonik, remixes by Teengirl Fantasy, Best Fwends and Javelin, and drops from the likes of Diplo, Kool Keith and Carrot Top (er… maybe not that last one) aren’t enough to convince listeners that the 23-year-old rapper takes his mixtape seriously, then the music should at least surprise those previously unwilling to give the rapper a chance.

Mixing original beats, hip-hop favorites and a boatload of remixes, Thunder Zone makes an excellent case for Juiceboxxx. Anyone who questioned his flow just needs to press play on “Juiceboy” to hear the rapper’s voice practically bounce off the walls with the instrumentals from Cam’Ron’s “Oh Boy” backing him up. Or they can take a listen to JB go toe-to-toe with Spank Rock on “I’m A Man” and end up with a club jam that won’t leave one’s head for days.

Juiceboxxx clearly had fun putting Thunder Zone together. When I interviewed him for The A.V. Club Chicago, Juiceboxxx talked about how excited he was to put out a selection of songs steeped in the sound, flavor and traditions of the mixtape format. And he certainly does that to the “nth” degree, peppering the tracks with shout outs from his musical peers (and Carrot Top) and radio-type announcements blaring “Thunder Zone Volume One” throughout the mix.

Though Juiceboxxx is able to display his skills on Thunder Zone, it feels a bit short. Perhaps the sheer number of remixes, most of which don’t stand up to the straight-to-the-jugular appeal of their originals, weighs the mixtape down. Still, aside from a few remixes that fall a little short, Thunder Zone displays a confident, sincere MC that’s hungry to get his voice heard.

You can download Thunder Zone Volume One for free here and here.

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