Christian Palko (born May 4, 1973), better known by his stage name Cage, is an American rapper from Middletown, New York. With a majority of his career being spent with record labels Definitive Jux and Eastern Conference. He has released six solo albums, in addition to two compilation albums and two EPs.

Cage performing a live show at the Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, in 2009
Cage performing a live show at the Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, in 2009
Background information
Birth nameChristian Palko[1]
Also known as
Born (1973-05-04) May 4, 1973 (age 50)
Würzburg, West Germany
OriginMiddletown, New York, U.S.
Years active1991–present
Current label(s)
Former label(s)
Formerly of

Aside from his solo career, Cage is one of the founders of the underground hip hop supergroup The Weathermen, which was formed in 1999.[6] He also established a group called Smut Peddlers, with hip hop duo The High & Mighty, publishing an album titled Porn Again, in 2001. He is also known for his collaborations with New Jersey rapper Tame One; the two were collectively known as Leak Bros. Cage and Camu Tao made up the duo Nighthawks, who released an eponymous 2002 album.

Early life Edit

Chris Palko was born in Würzburg, West Germany, to American parents. His father was stationed on a West German military base as a member of the military police.[2] Palko lived there until the age of four when his father was dishonorably discharged for selling and using heroin, and the family was sent back to the United States, where they lived in Middletown, New York. His father would often force Palko to pull homemade tourniquets around his arm as he injected heroin. At the age of eight, Palko's father was arrested during a standoff with state troopers after threatening his family with a shotgun.[7][8] By the time Palko was expelled from high school, his mother had remarried twice, and he was beaten by his stepfather Frank. Palko began using PCP, cocaine, LSD, cannabis and alcohol.[8]

Palko was arrested several times for drug possession and fighting in the streets. Facing jail time for violating probation, his mother convinced the judge he was mentally unstable, and was sent to the Stony Lodge psychiatric hospital for a two-week evaluation. He stayed in the hospital for sixteen months, where he was a part of a small group used to test fluoxetine, commonly known as Prozac.[8][9] After being misdiagnosed and placed on the drug, he became suicidal and made several attempts to kill himself, including hanging himself with his shoelaces and saving his lithium dose for a month before ingesting all of them at once.[7][8]

Career Edit

1991–2001: Career beginnings Edit

When Palko was released from the hospital at eighteen, he pursued a career as a rapper, giving himself the stage name "Alex", after the protagonist of Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange.[2] After hiring a manager and recording a demo, he was introduced to rapper Pete Nice, and Cage debuted on the track "Rich, Bring 'Em Back" on the 1993 album Dust to Dust.[9] Known as "Keige" and part of a group named Bloody Ruffnecks and later Mudbones, his first demo mixtape was released in 1994; in the liner notes, he named his influences as Kool Keith, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Juice Crew, Marley Marl and KRS-One.[4]

Pete Nice also introduced Palko to radio personality Bobbito García, who featured Palko on his program several times, increasing his reputation among New York's underground hip hop scene, where he became associated with KMD, Kurious Jorge, K-Solo, Godfather Don, Necro, Artifacts, Pharoahe Monch and El-P. He spent the last night with MF Doom's brother and KMD member Subroc in 1993 before he was killed in a road accident.[10] Palko signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, but frequently recorded while intoxicated, and the label found his efforts to be unsatisfactory.[7] Palko briefly put his career on hold and his drug use increased.[8] He became a father to a daughter in 1994.[11]

When García founded the label Fondle 'Em Records, he offered Palko a record deal, and Cage released a single featuring the songs "Radiohead" and "Agent Orange" in 1997, to success and acclaim.[2] Following the release of Slim Shady EP in December 1997, Palko accused Detroit-based rapper Eminem of imitating his style.[12][13]

After several more singles with Fondle 'Em, Palko met Mr. Eon and DJ Mighty Mi of The High & Mighty, and the trio formed the group Smut Peddlers, releasing the album Porn Again on Rawkus Records in 2001. The album peaked at #10 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, #43 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and #184 on the Billboard 200, while its single "That Smut" peaked at #9 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and #96 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.[14] In 2001 and 2002 respectively, Palko's music was featured on the soundtrack to the psychological crime film Bully and season 1 of the crime drama television show The Wire.

2002–2009: Eastern Conference and Definitive Jux era Edit

Palko signed with The High & Mighty's Eastern Conference Records, releasing his debut album, Movies for the Blind, on August 6, 2002. It peaked at #12 on the Heatseekers chart, #14 on the Top Independent Albums chart, #58 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and #193 on the Billboard 200.[15] Palko later stated, in 2006, that the album "sort of glorified drugs" and that he felt the album was "crazy for the sake of being crazy [...] .[16] During this period, Palko formed the group The Weathermen, named after the left-wing political organization.[9] The group released their debut album The Conspiracy on June 3, 2003, before Palko left Eastern Conference over alleged non-payment.[8] An extended play, titled Weatherproof, was released on July 29, 2003. During his time on Eastern Conference, Interscope Records showed interest in signing Cage despite Eminem also being on their label, but ended their interest after judging that he would not attract a mainstream audience.[11]

Because Palko felt that he should no longer play a character, he began to take on a more open writing style,[8] and signed with Definitive Jux, where he released his second studio album Hell's Winter, on September 20, 2005. Hell's Winter peaked at #26 on the Top Heatseekers chart and at #36 on the Top Independent Albums chart.[17]

In a 2007 interview with American actor Shia LaBeouf, for Vanity Fair, LaBeouf expressed interest in starring as Palko in a possible film biography.[18] On November 30, 2007, Spin reported that the film would go into production.[19]

In July 2009, Palko released his third studio album Depart from Me, which he characterized as having a rap rock sound.[20] LaBeouf directed the music video for the song "I Never Knew You".[21] Cage's mental health was affected by the suffering and death of best friend and collaborator Camu Tao during the recording process.[11]

2010–present: Kill the Architect and later work Edit

In late 2010, Palko appeared on American recording artist Kid Cudi's second album Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, making a guest appearance on a track titled "Maniac". The two performed "Maniac", alongside indie rock musician St. Vincent, on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in November of that year.[22] In March 2011, Cudi announced he would be releasing a short film inspired by the song "Maniac", co-starring Palko and directed by Shia LaBeouf, in October 2011.[23][24] On October 30, 2011, as promised Cudi released Maniac, a short horror film, premiered via his blog.[25]

Despite previously having a falling out with The High & Mighty, Palko announced in 2012, he would reunite with producer DJ Mighty Mi, to release a single titled "The Void", which was released on April 3, 2012, on Tribute Records.[26][27][28] Palko also started a new project with Sean Martin, called We Sold Our Souls, who released their first song "Super Baked" in March 2012.[29] Cage also announced he would release material under an alter ego, Sam Hill, with lyrics on topics similar to his early efforts on Movies For the Blind.[30] On August 23, 2013, it was announced that the album Kill the Architect would be released on October 22, 2013, with Eastern Conference.[31][32][33] A song from the album, "The Hunt", was released on the same day.[34]

Palko had two further supporting roles in independent films: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's critically acclaimed romantic horror Spring[35] and Amber Tamblyn's drama Paint It Black.[36]

In 2015, Palko suffered a brain injury in a road accident and was affected by amnesia for two years. He returned to music by touring with the Insane Clown Posse, and released a 2018 album under the Sam Hill alias.[5]

Style Edit

Described by Okayplayer as "One of horrorcore's most polarizing figures",[37] Cage frequently rapped about his traumatic childhood including parental abuse and his year-long spell at the Stoney Lodge mental hospital, calling the latter experience a college education for his rap career.[9][1] He abandoned this style between Movies for the Blind and Hell's Winter, making a choice to not make misogynistic music, music promoting drug use, or battle rap.[16] Cage used influences from rock music on 2009's Depart from Me, calling it "progressive rap".[38] Hell's Winter and Depart from Me have been described by critics as emo rap.[39][40][41]

Discography Edit

Studio albums Edit

EPs Edit

Collaborative albums Edit

Filmography Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "I'm Not Crazy". Vice. December 1, 2002. Retrieved March 30, 2021. They'd flip it on me, too, telling me, "Christian, draw a picture of something very violent and evil."
  2. ^ a b c d "Biography of Cage". Definitive Jux. Archived from the original on September 12, 2008. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  3. ^ Rouhani, Neena (November 7, 2022). "Tame One, Artifacts & The Weathermen Rapper, Dead at 52". Billboard. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "Das erste Cage Demo-Tape: Mudbones – Mudbones Madness (1992–1994)". 90er Hip Hop (in German). July 15, 2014. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Juon, Steve (April 28, 2020). "Cage :: Kill the Architect". Rap Reviews. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  6. ^ "What Has Cage Been Up to Since Def Jux?". January 22, 2015. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Goldberg, Michael Alan (November 24, 2005). "Cage: Plenty to rap about". Phoenix New Times. Archived from the original on March 22, 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Jeffries, David. "Biography of Cage". Allmusic. Archived from the original on February 27, 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  9. ^ a b c d Spence D. (June 13, 2003). "Rage In The Cage". IGN. Archived from the original on July 7, 2003. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  10. ^ Herbert, Conor (January 9, 2021). "Shadows of Tomorrow III: Long Live Kingilizwe". Central Sauce. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c Golianopoulos, Thomas (August 2009). "Out of the Shadows". Spin. pp. 60–64. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  12. ^ Drumming, Neil (February 14, 2001). "Smut Peddlers: Split-Level Raunch". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  13. ^ Dearborn, Matt; Duke (December 1, 2005). "Interview: His name is not Slim Shady". University Wire. Archived from the original on September 18, 2008. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  14. ^ "Charts and awards for Porn Again". Allmusic. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  15. ^ "Charts and awards for Movies for the Blind". Allmusic. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  16. ^ a b Morris, David (February 6, 2006). "To Hell and Back: An Interview with Cage". PopMatters. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  17. ^ "Charts and awards for Hell's Winter". Allmusic. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  18. ^ Hogan, Michael (August 2007). "The New Kid: Can Hollywood turn 21-year-old Shia LaBeouf into the next Tom Hanks?". Vanity Fair. ISSN 0733-8899. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  19. ^ Faraone, Chris (November 30, 2007). "Shia LaBeouf: Horror-Core MC? Transformers star hopes to play indie rapper Cage in biopic". Spin. Archived from the original on November 14, 2015. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  20. ^ "Cage: The Dark Side of the Mic". ShockHound. July 9, 2009. Archived from the original on July 18, 2009. Retrieved July 16, 2009.
  21. ^ "Music Reviews, Features, Essays, News, Columns, Blogs, MP3s and Videos | PopMatters". Archived from the original on August 10, 2017. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  22. ^ "Kid Cudi Performs With St. Vincent, Cage on 'Jimmy Fallon'". Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  23. ^ Roberts, Steven. (November 5, 2010) Kid Cudi/ Shia LaBeouf Picture Leaks Online – Music, Celebrity, Artist News Archived July 25, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. MTV. Retrieved on 2011-04-26.
  24. ^ The Chosen One [@KidCudi] (March 5, 2011). "maniac horror short will be released on halloween, rager short this summer, marijuana video this spring. i got you guys, no worries" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  25. ^ The Chosen One [@KidCudi] (October 31, 2011). "MANIAC Directed by Shia LaBeouf Starring Scott Mescudi and Chris Palko" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  26. ^ The Void (snippet) Produced by DJ Mighty Mi by chrispalko on SoundCloud – Create, record and share your sounds for free Archived March 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on September 14, 2012.
  27. ^ [1][dead link]
  28. ^ "The Void (feat. Sherry St. Germain) – EP by Cage on iTunes". April 3, 2012. Archived from the original on December 12, 2015. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  29. ^ "Cage – Super Baked – Produced by FSTLANE 2012". YouTube. March 11, 2012. Archived from the original on January 12, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  30. ^ Sam Hill. Facebook (August 22, 2012). Retrieved on 2012-09-14.
  31. ^ HipHopDX (August 23, 2013). "Cage "Kill The Architect" Release Date & Cover Art". HipHopDX. Archived from the original on December 30, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  32. ^ "Cage – Kill The Architect – Facebook". Facebook. Archived from the original on January 12, 2016. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  33. ^ "Instagram". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  34. ^ [2] Archived August 30, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Godfrey, Alex (May 22, 2015). "Spring: the indie horror skewering genre cinema". The Guardian. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  36. ^ "Paint it Black (2016)". Cinema Paradiso. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  37. ^ "How Horrorcore Became A Forgotten Sub-Genre". Okayplayer. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  38. ^ Kale, Wendy; McCort, Kalene (November 25, 2009). "Breaking out of the Cage: Indie rapper hits Fox Theatre (VIDEO)". Colorado Daily. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  39. ^ Greene, Jayson (June 30, 2009). "Depart From Me". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 7, 2023. Cage follows 2005's Hell's Winter, a harrowing emo-rap record, with an extended wallow in self-pity and self-loathing.
  40. ^ Porter, Christopher (June 8, 2009). "Cage: I Never Knew You". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 7, 2023. Chilling stalker-emo rap of the sort that Eminem used to write all the time
  41. ^ Quinlan, Thomas (January 20, 2009). "Cage: The Best and Worst of". Exclaim. Retrieved September 7, 2023. Back before he was the poster boy for emo rap, Cage was a psychotic, unrelenting drug fiend [...]

External links Edit