Yes, folks, the circus is back in town. With such a grand show at the Cat's Cradle this past summer, why wouldn't the Def Jux crew come back through? This time it's in Raleigh at the Lincoln Theatre. That's right folks, on Oct. 16, for one night only, El-P, Mr. Lif and RjD2 will be doing it again. But wait! They have brought some friends--Cage and Copywrite--from Eastern Conference Records (www.easternconferencerecords.com).
Cage is a good rapper and a good storyteller. For those who need a little Cage 101, he is a "recovering mental patient" who "first fucked people's heads up on the 1993 Pete Nice solo LP 'Dust to Dust,'" explains the Eastern Conference Web site. Cage serves as an icon of sorts to kids whose favorite movie is The Killer, video game is Grand Theft Auto and favorite Web site is Bangbus.com. Some people don't appreciate the product of his expression: "I'm Against the Machine like Rage; bitches say, 'I hate you Cage!'/After circle jerks, I wash my hands off and do dirt/Sick with a smirk, plus happy disturbed/Fucked the first two bitches like dogs and I jacked off on the third/I'm obvious oblivious but that's my science/fuck your head up like corn rows put in by blind giants," are some of the lyrics from his single, "Agent Orange." To many "underground" hip-hop fans these lines are classic. Some might be offended by him, some Nerco fans might be amused.
There is no point in arguing about it. His music is what it is ... to you.
Cage knows this. "I make music and people tend to over-analyze things," he says. "The questions people ask me about my music half the time are about lyrics and things that may have absolutely no meaning. It means something to someone else, so I guess that's cool, but at the same time people get obsessed with this psycho image." Well, Cage, if you rhyme about stuffing hookers with broken glass, some folks might get the wrong idea. "It's like how can I be a psychopath and still conduct business for myself?"
Psycho? Probably not. Cage isn't concerned about how white his cards are, but he is a businessman who also happens to be a rapper and a dad. Obviously he is doing shows, making music and just living a hip-hop life. He might wear Polo, but he ain't going to the country club to play tennis with his wife, 'cuz he ain't the country clubbing type and he doesn't have a wife. Yet he does have an 8-year-old daughter, who besides business and writing, takes up most of his free time. Cage claims that he still gets "into as many adventures as I can." But since he doesn't really "feel like I'm at a point in my life where I can just gallivant around and bullshit around. I had plenty years of doing that. ... It's business when it's business. And in my spare time it's been business as well. Also my daughter. Letting her be queen for a day, whenever I have her, and let her do whatever the fuck she wants to do. Sleep when she wants; do whatever ... 'cuz I didn't have it like that. I wasn't able to just run amok, I guess. As a kid, there were too many restrictions, so I totally give her none."
Cage's childhood was mos def different from his little girl's. Cage's father was an MP, which meant Cage moved around a bit like most Army brats, though he ended up staying in the New York area from a young age.
"I was probably like any other kid growing up. I had a few different stepfathers so that kind of helped put me on this path I guess I am on. [They were] all abusive in their own right," Cage says.
"Everyone has a reason for doing what they do," he says. "I have a reason for doing what I do. Abusing children isn't one of them, but that's where I come from. I had a dark, deranged childhood. As early as I can remember, I was doing devious shit, like in the first grade. I feel like my childhood was robbed from me. I had the childhood of a child actor, without the success."
But success did come later, with the help of some friends from college radio. "I have been in or outside or not let into the music industry since 1993. I got my start on WKCR (Columbia University's radio station), which .. I will just hands down say that they started and influenced and pioneered independent rap music on the FM dial."
WKCR's very own Bobbito, aka DJ Cucumberslice, is one of those responsible for WKCR's impact and Cage's very popular 12-inch "Agent Orange/Radio Head." The single was put out on Fondle 'Em Records in '97. Cage quickly teamed up with Mr. Eon and DJ Mighty Mi (of The Hi and the Mighty) to form The Smut Peddlers. Cage also is a member of the Weathermen, which also includes Copywrite and Mhz. The Weathermen have a new single, "Five Left in the Clip" (produced by Raleigh's own Dart la), which is featured on The Eastern Conference All-Stars III.
Cage will also have a new project coming out in November called The Nighthawks, featuring Cage and Def Jux Records' Camu Tao. The story behind the self-titled album is, in Cage's words, "crooked NYPD, loose cannons running through Manhattan and kinda doing what ever the fuck they wanna do." Cage is "not really anti-cop," but he has a clear understanding, as should everyone, that police risk their lives as a part of their job. "They make that choice that that's their career that they can die when they go to work." Cage said. He also recognizes that the loss of firefighters and police on Sept. 11 overshadowed the other losses. "I kinda feel since 9/11, they really tried to use that to make us really forget all the horrible things that NYPD has done ... 3,000 people that died in the Twin Towers are, well, it's almost as if their memory is not as much thrown in our face as much as the NYPD and the fire department's."
Cage is honest about the fact that he likes dirty cop movies like Serpico ('73), Copland ('97) and Fort Apache the Bronx ('81). He says, "I just think you mix all that shit together and that's what Nighthawks came from. And Nighthawks is actually a movie with Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams. That's kinda the characters that me and Camu took on for this album. We tried to keep it as far away from a 'hip hopera' 'cuz I think that that shit is so wack."
This November, Cage will be an honorary judge at the Cannabis High Times Cup. He also has two new Weathermen albums that will be out next spring. He is currently on the Revenge of the Robots tour.
That's the rundown on Cage's current and upcoming projects. As far as himself and his art, "Ya know, I am like everybody else, except I have the imagination of a room full of people. And I am from New York and I don't tolerate too much shit. I guess that all wrapped up together gives people the wrong idea. Like most dark art."
For more info on Cage, check out www.cagekennylz.com.