Release Date: Jul 7, 2009
Record label: Def Jux
Since 2005's highly acclaimed Hell's Winter, NYC rapper Cage hasn't made much noise. But during this time away, he's reinvented his sound. Whether rhyming over ominous metal riffs (Teenage Hands) or eerie, cascading strings (I Found My Mind In Connecticut), Cage transcends typical boom-bap-style hip-hop. [rssbreak] Depart From Me's dark, drug-heavy subject matter prompts comparison to Eminem's Relapse, but Cage's marble-mouthed delivery, cryptic lyricism and tortured history differentiate the two.
Any encounter with indie rapper Cage's material should come with an expectation of joyless lyrics, soul-crushing stories, and animosity as a muse, so pointing out that Depart from Me is an uninviting album may seem unnecessary. Still, angst-free and well-adjusted listeners could still fall hard for his previous effort, 2005's Hell's Winter, thanks to the rapper's Atmosphere-meets-Eminem writing style combining with the Def Jux label's subterranean, head-bobbing beats. Here, the opening "Nothing Left to Say" sets a familiar tone with "This beauty they speak of/I can not see" and "The monkey on my back is still flingin' shit at you" couldn't be more true, but a new attitude emerges with "I've got one thing to say/I'd like to share it with you/If you don't, is it too bad for me?/Or too bad for you?" This prickly and punkish stance is reflected in the album's sonic landscape which trades the bottom-end thump for guitar crunches and post-hardcore grinding.
At the time of this writing, the Northeast has been shrouded in clouds and dumped on by rain for a week straight. It’s fitting weather for listening to something as willfully dark as Cage’s new album, Depart From Me. Cage has never been shy about facing his demons and airing grievances on record—and he certainly has earned the right to do so with a troubled past and a discography of great albums.
Hey, what's this-- an extended wallow in self-pity and self-loathing from a pissy, drug-addicted white rapper who can't stop reliving his terrible childhood? And all of it sounds like a painfully dated dispatch from the era of Insane Clown Posse and Marilyn Manson? That Slim Shady: did he buy Cage's tape and dub over it again? It's a real shame that Cage's latest, Depart From Me, turned out the way it did. His last record, 2005's Hell's Winter, was a harrowing example of emo-rap, a record that transformed the well-rehearsed details of Cage's traumatic life-- violent and heroin-addicted father, abusive stepfather, a history of drug problems and a tortured stint in a mental institution-- into a compelling showcase for the other thing he shares with Eminem: prodigious rapping abilities and a gift for rendering nightmarish scenarios, like the one in which police rip heroin bricks from the floorboards of Cage's home while his father brandishes a gun at him and his mother, with uncomfortably vivid detail. Hell's Winter veered off-course only when Cage indulged his unfortunate weakness for Linkin Park-style emo, like "Shoot Frank", which features a mewling nu-metal hook courtesy Glassjaw lead singer Daryl Palumbo.