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Cage: Depart From Me

Is Cage finally on the verge of mainstream success?

Cage: Depart From Me

By Jeremy Azevedo
For a listener that’s not already intimately familiar with Cage as an artist, your initial response to Depart From Me may be something like “WTF is this? Some kind of goddamn emo-rapcore Linkin Park shit?

And you would only be half wrong. With the lion’s share of the producing having been recorded by former Hatebreed guitarist F. Sean Martin, there is most definitely a rock sound to this record. And I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t just a touch emotional. But don’t think for a second that there’s any similarity to be found between Depart From Me and a more traditional rapcore album like the Hollywood Undead’s Swan Song, because they couldn’t be further apart stylistically in theme and content.

Cage is well know for his dark subject matter and self-loathing tirades against himself, and Depart From Me is certainly no exception to the status quo in that regard. But where this is the sort of thing that is played for laughs by an artist like Eminem, you never doubt for a second that Cage speaks every word with utmost sincerity. Although he’s come a long way since his excessively violent and negative “Alex the Worm King” persona from Movies For the Blind, the crippling depression expressed by Cage on this record will weigh heavily on an attentive listener. F. Sean Martin and El-P’s beats are almost hypnotic on several of the tracks, demanding that you follow Cage right down whatever drain he’s spiraling down.

One particularly miserable song, “I Found My Mind in Connecticut” is one of the most painfully honest and depressing songs you will hear coming from any rap artist, detailing Cage’s time spent at F. Sean Martin’s house recovering from a particularly hairy breakup. Later, on “Captain Bumout”, Cage outlines his inability to enjoy being at a nameless club, dancing with some random chick and pretending to have a great time. Anyone that’s ever experienced social anxiety would relate to the conceit that drinking crappy, overpriced well drinks and dancing with vacuous strangers to shitty pop DJs in a crowded club filled with seemingly happy people might make one “hope somebody pulls a gun out and sucks the fun out and levels the playing field for Captain Bumout”.

Not every song on this record is a slow jam to suicide to, however. There are a couple of apprehensively joyous songs about dating teenagers, telling people to “Kick Rocks” (translation: f**k off) and even a song about Cage’s fatter days (called “Fat Kids Need An Anthem”) that sounds quite similar to to the Suicidal Tendencies classic, Institutionalized. Toward the end of that song, Cage intones: “They say you are what you eat, that means I went from shit to a vegetable!” In fact, quite a few of these tracks on Depart From Me reminded me of Suicidal Tendencies, Joy Division or the Circle Jerks, which cannot be said for many any hip-hop records I’ve heard. It’s a refreshing experiment that keeps you listening, if for no other reason than that you can’t believe how well the indie-rap and punk rock styles mesh together. P.O.S. is probably eating his beanie cap in a fit of jealous rage over this right now.

If you though Kanye West was being innovative by making an entire record in Auto-Tune, then you probably couldn’t find your ass with both hands and wouldn’t understand this record. But those of you who already appreciate Cage to begin with, or even have any interest at all in seeing hip-hop evolve beyond showing off how many nonsense words you can make rhyme over endlessly repetitive samples, Depart From Me may rank as one of your favorite albums this year. Avant-garde from start to finish, Depart From Me shatters every barrier that separates indie rap from indie rock and electronic music like bastard cousins meeting for the first time at an S&M Bar in hell. Depart From Me is sick, sad shit for a sick, sad world… but at the same time, gives you hope for advancement, artistry and growth.

I award this album 9 out of 10 Unicorns Fighting a Robot Dolphin:

+1 if you are a fan of El-P, XO Skeletons, Weathermen or Head Automatica
-1 if you are really put off by the frequent inclusion of guitar samples and relatively simpler rhyme schemes