Earlier this month, pop collagist Juiceboxxx — a Milwaukee-born rapper with a penchant for rock and punk — was the subject of the book, The Next Next Level, written by longtime fan Leon Neyfakh. It was a significant moment for the rigorously autonomous outsider artist, who tells Rolling Stone in a new video that the book marked the first time he felt like his narrative was no longer in his control.
"I want to present to you my vision — and the book took that away from me," Juiceboxxx says. "And maybe that's cool, that's positive. I think in some ways you gotta step back and see yourself from outside. But with that said, I think that was a hard experience for me."
Still, in the wake of The Next Next Level, the 28-year-old MC has continued to carve out his own path, especially with the launch of his new label Thunder Zone. Like his music, Thunder Zone is outrageously eclectic, offering typical label fare like LPs, CDs, mix tapes and clothing, but also hacky sacks, screenplays and energy drinks.
"Everything gets a catalog number, it's all coming from my brain," Juiceboxxx says. "To me it's a new kind of Americana. The label is just presenting a new vision for freaked out American culture which is: Slam an energy drink, go to a punk show."
Juiceboxxx also continues to write and record with unflagging intensity and self-determination, noting that the negativity he encounters now is no different than what he heard when he was 16. "If you told somebody that I was gonna go on and make these records that are sort of transcending the cultural space that I've established for myself, people might be like, 'Oh he's too old,'" the MC says. "And maybe they're right, but all I know is I'm still in this fucking little shitty room writing songs and trying to get better because I believe in what I do."