featured REVIEW


Cage Hell's Winter Def Jux • 2005

Ever since his debut appearance on Pete Nice & Daddy Rich's song 'Rich Bring 'Em Back', Cage has been searchin for an identity. On the way, Chris Palko worked with numerous producers, dropped a few classic 12"s (Agent Orange!), hooked up with several artists, and made some collaboration albums. When he eventually signed with Def Jux, the missing piece of the puzzle seemed to be filled. Songs like 'Ballad Of Worms' (on EC All-Stars III) and 'Accidents Don't Happen' (of El-P's 'Fantastic Damage') were signs on the wall, songs that went a more honoust, emotional way and who could fit right in his new album's concept.

'Hell’s Winter' is a testimony of someone who experienced a lot, someone who got kicked by life ànd his brutal father 'Bill Murray, not the actor' as he explains in songs like 'Too Heavy For Cherubs' and especially 'Stripes', where Cage boldly describes how he and his mother got tyrannised by him. Lyrically Cage is flawless, not really his voice timbre and flow, but his poetical approach, his expressive choice of words and sounds who are heart-felt and striking. In 'Scenester' his playful but raw lyrics describe his relationship with a suicidal girl 'Used to hack her arm up for attention' and in 'Peeranoia', he tries to write off his former drug addiction 'I tried a lot of drugs, I tried a lot of ladies, some I probably wouldn’t have tried if I wasn’t on drugs', ironically, over one of the most uplifting beats of the album.

The production line-up is impressive with instrumental experts such as DJ Shadow, who drops a few hardcore electro breakbeats in 'Grand Ol Party Crash', Blockhead, who managed to create excellent soundscapes filled with melancholy and agony, and RJD2 who flipped only one beat but a great one; 'Shoot Frank' is also the second single of the album and features (not annoying!) singin by Daryl Palumbo in the hook. El-P's production is characterized by its trademark apocalyptic sound and raunchy guitars (most of them played live) and culminates in the magnificent title track, -'I’m trying to pick up the pieces, keep cutting my hands, when I put it back together, it’s faeces'-, where Matt Sweeney tickles the snares with finesse.

For the first time in his life, Cage seems to have found a balance, ànd a musical mentor in the person of El-P, who brought together a matching production line-up creating an excellent musical background for this album. Movin from EC, whose founders he still mocks at in 'Public Property', –'Come on stop it’s silly, how did you really think you had Homefield Advantage in NY reppin Philly'- to Def Jux is an excellent career move and will make Cage's music more mature and give it a classic status, if it doesn't have already.

POSTED ON 09|30|2005 by cpf

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