With the release of his Eastern Conference debut, Movies for the Blind
, New York rapper Cage successfully breaks free from past comparisons to Eminem
. It was inevitable that the two would draw comparisons - both Chris Palko and Marshall Mathers are white rappers whose material is extremely personal and often deals with dark themes and imagery. But, beyond these minor aspects, the two couldn't be more different, particularly in their associations. Mathers is determined to be seen in the same light as Dr. Dre
, Snoop Dogg
and other hardcore rappers. Cage, on the other hand, associates himself with alternative hip hop musicians, including producers like El-P
Much of the lyrical content of Movies for the Blind
stems from a troubled upbringing that included much drug use, multiple suicide attempts and time spent in a mental institution, the Stoney Lodge. The album's production is extremely good, with some highlights including the trippy "Stoney Lodge", the busy "The Soundtrack..." and the haunting "Among the Sleep". Cage's lyrics range from the violent to the outright bizarre and humorous ("The dead came back and haunted the wrong address").
Perhaps most memorable is the inclusion of Cage's 1997 single "Agent Orange", in which he takes on the personality of Alex, the anti-hero of Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange
, rapping against a Necro beat sampling Wendy Carlos' famed score. Also memorable is "A Suicidal Failure", recounting a violent, drug-filled night.
The drug content is very outright, ranging from PCP-induced hallucinations to a sampled conversation involving smoking a joint dipped in embalming fluid. Cage would later reject this past work upon arriving on Definitive Jux Records, expressing his opinion that the album glorified the drugs portrayed in many of the album's tracks. As Cage continues to progress as an artist, this first effort shows a strong performance of the unique rapper, offering some of the most interesting themes and lyrics you are likely to hear in any rap album. Recommended.