Movies for the Blind
is probably the only album in history to attempt an audio replication of hallucinations on PCP. It was also written by the only rapper in history to actually have been committed to a psychiatric hospital, and was one of the early test subjects for Prozak. The beats on this album were mostly created by people that would eventually be involved in some degree with El-P
's Definitive Jux, Cage's current home label.
In recent years, Cage has become known for being one of the most personal lyricists in hip hop, and Movies for the Blind
is no exception. Most of the lyrics here have some basis in Cage's personal history, but the PCP angle allows Cage to fictionalize events by exaggerating them to outlandish lengths for purpose of shock or humor. The mix of the realistic and outlandish is entirely the result of the lyrics having being written on drugs; it's unclear how much of what Cage describes in the lyrics of "Stoney Lodge" is a reflection of real events, or exaggeration. Exaggeration is put to good use on "A Suicidal Failure", which reflects Cage's own failed suicide and becomes increasingly more surreal.
Some of the album's best moments come from Cage embracing fictional concepts like "The Soundtrack...", discussing a concept in which he brutally murders his stepfather, and the resulting events thereafter, or "Among The Sleep", which reflects PCP-fueled dreams of Cage turning up in various situations like waking up in a hotel room covered in blood with a murdered hooker on the floor, setting off a series of violent dreams within dreams, including a Columbine-esque mass shooting and a home invasion. Also present on this album is Cage's 1997 A Clockwork Orange
-inspired single "Agent Orange", with Cage substituting for Alex DeLarge.
The drug angle also allows the producers involved to explore the more psychedelic side of the hip hop sound in full, even in the album's skits, like "Probably Causes Paranoia", where a psychedelic jazz guitar loop is combined with samples from the TV series Six Feet Under
which discuss the prospect of smoking a joint dipped in embalming fluid, or the conspiracy theorist-themed "Under Satan's Authority", which combines archived audio discussing possible Illuminati conceit, with parts of the audio cutting to Martian dialect from Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!
uses sampled strings and hard-hitting beats to great atmospheric effect to illustrate the surreal horror of "Among the Sleep"; El-P provides a semi-electronic sound on "Holdin A Jar 2". On "Agent Orange", there is no other choice for a sample but Wendy Carlos' synthesizer arrangement of Henry Purcell’s Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, sampled from the Kubrick film that the lyrics were inspired by; the production and beat were provided by Necro
, whose own albums feature movie soundtrack samples even when the lyrical content doesn't reflect the music sampled.
In terms of his approach, Cage does not sound like any of the rapper/producers who provide the beats for this album. Parts of the album sound like the remnants of an insane person's journal, others reflect the point of view of a storyteller. In either instance, the writer is a deeply personal author with something to say.
Cage has gone on to write even more personal lyrical content which has become the driving force of his Definitive Jux releases Hell's Winter
and Depart from Me
. Movies for the Blind
is a fractured, psychedelic hip hop concept record which shows the beginnings of a MC with true originality and creativity, backed by some of the best production the East Coast has to offer.