Review Summary: Please Cage, no more "emo" rap!!!
Chris Palko aka Cage Kennylz aka Cage has had a name in Hip-Hop since his days with "Fondle 'Em Records." Since these days Cage has made a name for himself and his lyrics with his gritty and raw storytelling ability. This explains the beef he had with fellow rapper Eminem in his early career, saying that the emcee stole his style. After "Clockwork Orange" and "Radiohead" dropped in the early 90's Cage showed that he was for real, not just some white man in a black man's game.
Fast forward to August, 6 2002 Cage released his debut album "Movies for the Blind." The album takes place in a neo-fantasy world, totally built in Chris' imagination and influenced by his experience in a mental hospital, and the numerous drugs he has done most notably PCP. "Hell's Winter" is Cage growing up as an emcee. The shock value that was in "Movies for the Blind" is nowhere present in "Hell's Winter." Instead of insanity for the sake of insanity, Cage has chosen to write about the problems facing him today. Unfortunately this doesn't work quite as well. It seems that Cage is trying to be something he's not on this album, almost trying to convey a message that he himself isn't sure of. Not only changing his style lyrically, Cage changed his style physically, trading high-tops and a North Face for straightened black hair and tight pants. This style switch is most notable in the song Scenester
, the problems first start with the poppy and melodramatic beat which is so far from the normal fast paced and hectic style we normally see cage rhyme too. The lyrics don't get much better as he basically describes an infatuation with the type of girl's he sees at his concerts. The album reaches a low point with the track, Subtle Art Of The Breakup Song
. Again Cage trades his potent and controversial style, for something that can only be described as corny and suitable for MTV.
There are some positives to this album as demonstrated by the song Too Heavy For Cherubs
. The eerie guitar rifts perfectly blend with Cage's erratic and dark description of helping his father shoot up heroin when he was a child. There is no question of Cage's writing ability on this album, demonstrated by the verse: A cold day in hell/ I feel good/ At least I feel as good/ As real feels/ If real even feels good/ I think back to being a kid and getting my ass kicked/ And when I sold my soul to the devil to make me rap SICK! Left It To Us
is also a highlight on the CD as it features Cage's supergroup "The Weathermen." The chemistry between all these emcees is great and is a demonstration of battle rap at it's best. Camu Tao (RIP), Yak Ballz, El-P, and Aesop Rock perfectly blend there styles together along with Cage to create a smooth but eccentric sound.
Don't get me wrong. I do appreciate this album and believe that it is worth listening to for the most part. I also believe that progression as an artist is extremely important, especially in Hip-Hop where your own unique style is everything. I just don't necessarily agree with Cage's decision to turn away from the raw lyrical approach he used in his early years. Chaos is beauty and the more Cage tries to shy away from his maniacal and drug-ladden persona, the more watered down and worse his albums will become.