Caged Beats

Abandoned by his abusive father. Dropped out of high school. Hard drugs, suicide attempts, constant fistfights…

If rapper Chris Palko’s life sounds like the plot of “8 Mile,” don’t remind him. For years, the man known on stage as Cage has claimed that Eminem stole his signature style; Eminem even responded with a direct dis on “The Slim Shady LP.”

But Palko may still have the last laugh: According to Spin Magazine, actor Shia LaBeouf (star of the “Transformers” movies, and a guy whom Steven Spielberg has called “the next Tom Hanks”) will reportedly star in a biopic about Palko’s life – a film the magazine said “should make Eminem’s ‘8 Mile’ look like ‘Mary Poppins’.”

The guy’s background indeed reads like a horror story of neglect and abuse: Threatened by his father with a shotgun, beaten by his stepfather and his uncle, and eventually himself addicted to the hardest of hard drugs, Palko spent 18 months involuntarily committed to a mental institution – all before he even turned 18.

Those demons have never left Palko, who first appeared on the hip-hop scene in the mid-90s as a leading figure in the New York rap underground. Angry and drug-addled, Palko’s real-life troubles kept him from achieving his potential, even as Eminem became a household name; a record contract with major label Columbia failed to produce anything, and for awhile Palko slipped back into obscurity.

These days, Palko/Cage has cleaned up his act and sharpened his tongue, and his second-coming as a thoughtful – albeit still angry – rapper has drawn a new wave of fans and critical raves. His latest record, “Depart From Me,” on the Definitive Jux label, marks both a departure from his earlier, foul-mouthed style, and a spiritual homecoming of sorts: With his glum voice drawling against a backdrop of industrial beats and slashing guitars, the album is “the most seamless, compelling union of hip-hop and modern rock since the two genres first collided,” according to Spin Magazine.

Check out this video, of the song “I Never Knew You”….

Cage appears at the Palace Lounge this Sunday, Nov. 29, with support from local rappers Slopstar and Acher. Tickets are $8 ($10 for anyone 18-20).

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