One Milwaukee native found out what it’s like to be the central figure in a critically heralded nonfiction book.

More pop culture essay than standard biography, The Next Next Level by Leon Neyfakh (July, Melville House) examines the intersection between artist and fan by dissecting the relationship between the author and never-say-die, Milwaukee-raised rapper Juiceboxxx, who took time to discuss his reaction to the book.

What’s it like to read a book about yourself?
It’s deeply surreal and I felt a lot of different conflicting emotions. It made me feel angry, but it also made me feel psyched; it made me feel nostalgic, but it also made me feel sad. It was so many things at once, and I’m still working through my feelings about this book. Maybe I’ll never figure out how I feel. I’m pretty close to it right now. I think I need some distance.

Does it portray you fairly?
The best way to describe the book is that it’s one person’s subjective view of me and my career. It’s definitely not a straight biography. It’s a book about me and it’s also about the author. Because of that, I don’t think “fair” or “unfair” are the right words. Sometimes, I feel like I was used as a bit of a device for somebody
to tell their own story.

Does it feel strange to be mentioned in publications like Rolling Stone and The New Yorker for the first time because of the role you play in this book rather than your music?
My career has already been so idiosyncratic that it makes sense that this is how it would happen. I tried to blaze my own path, and because of that, my career has unfolded in a weird way. I’ve learned not to be surprised by anything.

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What’s your next chapter?
I’m writing a lot of songs and trying to make a record that is more transcendent than any record I made before it, a record I’ve had in my head for quite some time and am only beginning to articulate musically. I’m slowly creating a singular style that’s completely my own, and that takes time. I think the next one’s going to be really good. That’s why I’m still doing this. I’m 28 and I don’t think I’ve made my best music yet.

‘The Musical Muse’ appears in the October 2015 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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