Cage with C-Chan and the Govone

Critics have taken to calling the music of New York MC Cage "horrorcore." And the guy does kinda have a thing about death. His recent breakout album, Hell's Winter, features the following upbeat ditties: "Teen Age Death," "Gimme Some Death," and "The Death of Chris Palko." (Hint: Chris Palko is the rapper's real name.) The headline on his MySpace page? "Make out with my death." Okay, we get it.

It's difficult to blame Cage, though, considering his bio, which would make Dickens weep. There was the disgraced ex-soldier father, sent back to the States for his smack problem and last seen by his son during a police standoff. Later there was the string of teenage crimes that begat a stint in the infamous Stony Lodge psychiatric hospital, where Prozac only deepened his depression, forcing him into solitary confinement.

At present, Cage is an underground phenomenon: Hell's Winter has sold more than 50,000 copies. This tour picks up where an aborted outing last fall left off. The MC's fierce delivery punctuates each grotesque image and alliterative turn. This is miles away from the placid, circle-jerk quality of much so-called backpack hip-hop. Onstage, Cage is a man possessed.

Don't expect anything much sunnier from the openers: MCs C-Chan and the Govone are members of a group called Slow Suicide Stimulus. Might want to keep the sharp jewelry away from your less stable friends. — Arielle Castillo

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