Cage - Depart From Me
Record Label: Definitive Jux
Release Date: July 7, 2009
No matter at what record, at what point in rapper Chris Palko's life listeners catch him, they are in store for something deeply personal, introspective, and moving. Continuing themes from his 2005 release, the highly acclaimed Hell's Winter, Cage expands his thoughts on sobering up and living life after enduring enormous hardship, but also speaks of difficulties associated with changing your life. While I'm not here to relate his history, I highly suggest reading up on it to receive a better understanding of his lyrics and the stories behind them.
The album's first track, "Nothing Left to Say," begins with a soft, gradual build-up of keys, a haunting quality that matches the opening lyrics of betrayal and isolation perfectly. The intro continues to build as drums are incorporated, and Cage lets the listener know he knows how it feels to be betrayed, to be walked on, and ultimately discarded, hitting an apex as he shouts, "I know why!" After this, the song speeds up considerably, carried by heavy percussion and Cage's heavier lyrics. "Nothing Left to Say" also touches on friend and label-mate Camu Tao, who died last year. Cage ends the song with a verse denouncing those who tried to use Camu's death for their own gain. Heartfelt and genuine, this song provides a great basis for what lies in wait throughout the rest of the album.
"Dr. Strong" is easily the most open and thought-provoking song on the album. Cage intersperses sung choruses throughout the verses, which detail events that led up to and during his stay at Stony Lodge Hospital, an adolescent psychiatric institution. Unlike some hip-hop artists, there are no auto-tuned notes to be found, allowing Cage to project more feeling and life into his singing. Electric guitar and a catchy, upbeat percussion tempo drive the song from the background, creating an interesting mix of pop-influenced beats and serious source material that makes it one of my favorites on the album.
Amid the more serious tracks are songs like "Kick Rocks" and "Fat Kids Need an Anthem." While not focusing on solemn topics like the fleeting purity of teenage life ("Teenage Hands") or depression dealing with earlier moments in your life ("Eating Its Way Out of Me"), they highlight the issues bothering Cage in the present day. "Kick Rocks" offers listeners a new way to disconnect from people who use you, and introduces the song's title through three scenarios where the phrase is entirely acceptable and incredibly useful. "Fat Kids Need an Anthem" details his past plans of losing weight and getting healthier. Conjuring images of Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized," Cage uses fast, spoken, and flowing sentences to ultimately relate the fact he's still not entirely happy with himself.
Depart From Me ends with its first single, the slow, painful, and ultimately creepy "I Never Knew You." The verses describe feelings of loneliness and isolation being broken at the sight of a beautiful girl. They continue detailing the girl as the character in the song follows her during her daily routine and watches her outside of her house, where he eventually breaks in and kills her. However, despite the grave storytelling found in the verses, the chorus opens to blazing guitar chords, accompanied by some of the most beautiful and passionate lyrics found on the album.
Cage's third album continues perfectly from where "Shoot Frank," an incredibly progressive song found on his earlier release Hell's Winter, left off. Moving from underground to mainstream can be a very difficult thing for an artist to do, especially in a genre so saturated with artists, while still keeping the same feel and atmosphere around the recordings as much as possible. While Depart From Me is a huge change from his earlier work, thanks in part to the brilliant production of former Hatebreed guitarist Sean Martin, Cage has created a sound that is both true to himself and sure to be loved by a larger audience.
i've been a huge cage fan for a long time, but i can't get into this album. some track show promise like "I found my mind...", but other tracks like "Fat Kids.." are just embarrassing. Cage seems out of his comfort zone on this album.
the INKY ep (which was released a few weeks prior to DFM) was pretty good, but DFM is a let down so far. movies for the blind will probably always be the best
Lots of cats who have been major Cage fans for years are saying they can't into this. Over the years, I've listened to Cage skip along into his new arenas and I think he's best fit in this one now. I've loved every album, but I can't picture this one being any different. Movies For The Blind rules, but it suffers from the effects of not aging well, of fitting purely into the category of what that sort of hip-hop was when it was released, Hell's Winter doesn't suffer this, but a lot of Hell's Winter sounds shotty, though I dig it a lot. Every note on this album sounds perfect in it's place, and the humor is on par when it needs to be. Instead of groveling in assholish self-pity like he's been doing, he takes jabs at himself and has fun with his jams. The instrumentals are just as great as the vocals/lyrics. I could listen to the instrumentals by themselves without Cage spitting over them and they'd still be wonderful. Only beat I'm not really into is "I Lost It In Haverton." I dunno how this album will age, but hopefully quite well. I hate to look back on my favorite artists' albums and find that they just don't hold up. Revisiting that sound is fun, but it's no fun to lose the impact of the song due to this.
this album is pretty hit and miss. I like it but I think going from the beats that you hear on Movies for the blind and Hells Winter where he worked a lot more with El-P and Necro and the beats in my opinion were more solid then what is going on, on this album. I respect what he is doing and he said in an interview that he is trying to go from hells winter to a newer fresher kind of sound and that this album is the transition. I like that he works with F.Sean but i think a lot of the guitar work on the album is pretty intense and over powers a lot of the surrounding tracks. All and All its a fair album one i can listen to while driving around in my car when i kind of just want to have something playing. His lyrics are still very intense and you can still tell he is nowhere near being done with his career and if anything this album is going to help him finally get him more of a mainstream following which hopefully won't be a bad thing for his next album.