Cage performing a live show at Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, MN in 2009
|Birth name||Chris Palko|
|Also known as||Alex, Alex the Worm King, Cage Kennylz, Keige, Sam Hill, Sherm Penn|
May 4, 1973|
|Origin||Middletown, Orange County, New York, United States|
|Occupation(s)||Rapper, record producer, actor|
Christian Palko (born May 4, 1973), better known by his stage name Cage, is an American rapper and actor from Middletown, Orange County, New York. He spent most of his career on the labels Definitive Jux and Eastern Conference. He has released four solo albums, from Movies for the Blind (2002) to Kill the Architect (2013), in addition to two compilation albums and two extended plays.
Aside from his solo career, Cage is one of the founders of the underground hip hop supergroup The Weathermen, which was formed in 1999. 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 are collectively known as Leak Bros. Cage and Camu Tao made up the duo Nighthawks, who released an eponymous 2002 album.
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. 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. 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, and was sent to live with his uncle on a German military base, where he was beaten and sent home after a year.
Palko was arrested several times for drug possession and fighting in the streets. When he faced jail time for violating probation, his mother convinced the judge that he was mentally unstable, and he 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 used in Prozac. 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.
1991–2001: Career beginnings
When Palko was released from the hospital at eighteen, he pursued a career as a rapper, giving himself the stagename "Alex", after the protagonist of Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange. After hiring a manager and recording a demo, he was introduced to rapper Pete Nice, and Cage was featured on the 1993 album Dust to Dust. 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. Palko signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, but frequently recorded while intoxicated, and the label found his efforts to be unsatisfactory. Palko briefly put his career on hold and his drug use increased. He became father to a daughter in 1994.
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. Following the release of The Slim Shady EP in December 1997, Palko accused Detroit-based rapper Eminem of imitating his style.
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. In 2001, Palko's music was featured on the soundtrack to the psychological crime film Bully.
2002–2009: Eastern Conference and Definitive Jux era
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. 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 [...] . During this period, Palko formed the group The Weathermen, named after the left-wing political organization. The group released their debut album The Conspiracy on June 3, 2003, before Palko left Eastern Conference over alleged non-payment. 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.
Because Palko felt that he should no longer play a character, he began to take on a more open writing style, and signed with Definitive Jux, where he released his second studio album Hell's Winter, on September 20, 2005. Palko is quoted as saying "I make progressive rap, it's as simple as that. [...] I don't live for drugs anymore, I don't support them, and I'm not about to make a million songs about them anymore." He also said that he would no longer make battle rap or music that offends women.Hell's Winter peaked at #26 on the Top Heatseekers chart and at #36 on the Top Independent Albums chart.
In a 2007 interview with American actor Shia LaBeouf, for Vanity Fair, LaBeouf expressed interest in starring as Palko in a possible film biography. On November 30, 2007, Spin reported that the film would go into production.
In July 2009, Palko released his third studio album Depart from Me, which he characterized as having a rap rock sound. LaBeouf directed the music video for the song "I Never Knew You". Cage's mental health was affected by the suffering and death of best friend and collaborator Camu Tao during the recording process.
2010–2014: Kill the Architect
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. 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. On October 30, 2011, as promised Cudi released Maniac, a short horror film, premiered via his blog.
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. Palko also started a new project with Sean Martin, called We Sold Our Souls, who released their first song "Super Baked" in March 2012. 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. On August 23, 2013, it was announced that the album Kill the Architect would be released on October 22, 2013 with Eastern Conference. A song from the album, "The Hunt", was released on the same day.
- Movies for the Blind (2002)
- Weatherproof EP (2003)
- Hell's Winter (2005)
- I Never Knew You (2009)
- Depart from Me (2009)
- Kill the Architect (2013)
- Book ov Sam: Infernal Depths (2018)
- Collaborative albums
- "What Has Cage Been Up to Since Def Jux?". vice.com. 22 January 2015. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
- "Biography of Cage". Definitive Jux. Archived from the original on 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- Goldberg, Michael Alan (November 24, 2005). "Cage: Plenty to rap about". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- Jeffries, David. "Biography of Cage". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- Spence D. (June 13, 2003). "Rage In The Cage". IGN. Archived from the original on July 7, 2003. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- Golianopoulos, Thomas (August 2009). "Out of the Shadows". Spin. pp. 60–64. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
- Drumming, Neil (February 14, 2001). "Smut Peddlers: Split-Level Raunch". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- Dearborn, Matt; Duke (December 1, 2005). "Interview: His name is not Slim Shady". University Wire. Archived from the original on September 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- "Charts and awards for Porn Again". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- "Charts and awards for Movies for the Blind". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- Morris, David (February 6, 2006). "To Hell and Back: An Interview with Cage". PopMatters. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- "Charts and awards for Hell's Winter". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- 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. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- 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 2008-06-27.
- "Cage: The Dark Side of the Mic". ShockHound. July 9, 2009. Archived from the original on 18 July 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2009.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-10. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
- "Kid Cudi Performs With St. Vincent, Cage on 'Jimmy Fallon'". billboard.com. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
- Roberts, Steven. (2010-11-05) Kid Cudi/ Shia LaBeouf Picture Leaks Online – Music, Celebrity, Artist News. MTV. Retrieved on 2011-04-26.
- The Chosen One [@KidCudi] (5 March 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.
- The Chosen One [@KidCudi] (31 October 2011). "MANIAC Directed by Shia LaBeouf Starring Scott Mescudi and Chris Palko" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- The Void (snippet) Produced by DJ Mighty Mi by chrispalko on SoundCloud – Create, record and share your sounds for free. Soundcloud.com. Retrieved on 2012-09-14.
- [dead link]
- "The Void (feat. Sherry St. Germain) - EP by Cage on iTunes". Itunes.apple.com. 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
- "Cage - Super Baked - Produced by FSTLANE 2012". YouTube. 2012-03-11. Archived from the original on 2016-01-12. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
- Sam Hill. Facebook (2012-08-22). Retrieved on 2012-09-14.
- HipHopDX (23 August 2013). "Cage "Kill The Architect" Release Date & Cover Art". HipHopDX. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- "Cage - Kill The Architect - Facebook". Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- "Instagram". Instagram. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
-  Archived August 30, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- Godfrey, Alex (May 22, 2015). "Spring: the indie horror skewering genre cinema". The Guardian. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
- "Paint it Black (2016)". Cinema Paradiso. Retrieved June 21, 2018.