It’s hard for white rappers to be taken seriously. More often than not, listeners will draw an unfair parallel to one of two artists: Vanilla Ice or Eminem. Due to the issues he deals with in his rhymes, Christian “Cage” Palko’s 2009 album, Depart From Me, is bound to put him in the latter category. Like Eminem, Cage raps about drugs, violence and failing relationships. However, these issues are dealt with progressively—he speaks from personal experience, and that honesty results in a poignant record.
Cage speaks of child abuse, drug addiction and mental illness with an uncanny sincerity and a clear sense of authority. The album opens with a personal statement in spoken word. "When you're all alone and you think of home, places you may have been and who you've known... this beauty they speak of I cannot see, as I imagine as a child it's make-believe. Good ideas... hard to find. Get one and stand in line. Been judged and judged, what's one more time?" This kind of introspection reflects Cage's tone throughout the album and serves as a stark contrast to the self-promotion and glamor present in the rhymes of many of his peers.
The production on this album is also far from typical. This is by no means a rock record, but Cage’s tracks often incorporate real guitars and bass; a refreshing change of pace from the computer generated beats that have become a staple in commercial hip-hop. The music maintains a coherent style throughout the record, but is certainly diverse enough to keep the listener entertained.
Each track on the album is a window into Chris Palko’s psyche. The rapper seems to have abandoned all sense of shame, and in consequence his tracks can be a bit unsettling. In a genre often condemned for its artifice, Depart From Me is a welcome reminder that hip-hop can, in fact, be genuine. Depart From Me is available now on Def Jux records. Check out Cage's website at http://www.chrispalko.com/