18 avril 2006
Cage : Back From Hell
If you've already got your hands on the lattest issue of Tyler, you know that Cage is both one of the most shocking and deranged rappers of our time, which explains why we've put him in the middle of our big "Are white rappers crazy?" article. But if you want to know a little more about his inner madness and all the tribulations that led to Hell's Winter, his best album so far, then check out this exclusive and uncut interview where he talks some more about his new LP, his ex-record company and how he witnessed the transformation of Zevlove X into M.F. Doom.
Lyrics : Théophile Haumesser
How did you get involved with Hip Hop at the beginning and how did you discover that you had this talent for writing?
I was just a fan of music, both rock and rap. I started writing when I was 12 or 13.
Tell me about the new album, why did you name it Hell's Winter?
It was just a play on words that I came up with. After Movies For The Blind, I wanted to have another play on the words title. And it ended up taking a whole different meaning, with me changing my life and getting better.
It seems like you've been through a lot lately, was this album a way to deal with all that?
Yeah, totally. It was a crush, it was my lover, it was my wife, my companion, my dog, my everything. It embodies pain, suffering, all my regrets, everything. I dumped everything that I went through on the record. It's a very personal body of work.
What happened in your life that made you go through all those changes?
I just woke up one day in someone else's skin. That's what I felt like, you know? I just felt that I wasn’t the same person anymore. I just grew up kinda late, I feel. Making such a personal record was a way for me to try to fix my life, but doing it through music. It was a way for me to vent frustration. I was on a downward spiral, I hit the ground but kept on falling. This record represents all the changes I've been through, musically, physically, mentally, emotionally, everything. I always said I was gonna change, I don't even remember how many times I've said that since I was 15 years old, fucking up, and I was telling my parents that I was going to change. And ten years later, I still hadn't change, so it was long overdue.
Did you fear that the type of songs you used to make could sound as a gimmick?
I definitely think that it started to sound like a gimmick. I thought I was living a cliché. I had pigeonholed myself, I kinda stuck myself in a box and left myself there and kept making the same senseless songs over, and over again. I got tired of that whole "I'm crazy, I'm crazy" type of thing.
Why does it seem like all white rappers are crazy?
I'm not really sure, but it's probably because white people are crazy.
Was it a challenge to do this album?
It was a challenge to do this record because I hadn't made that drastic change when I first started to make the record. In fact, the change didn't start to happen until I made "Stripes" and "Too Heavy For Cherubs" and I started to get that shit of my chest. That's around the time everything started to change, once I had recorded these songs and I started to touch on issues and my past, dealing with those things. That's when things really started to change. I started to get a different appreciation and understanding for things I went through and things that my mother may have been through. I've spent a lot of my life hating my mother for the things that I went through. Having nightmares, and waking up from a nightmare, and constantly trying to sort everything out. That's what the record is. I think that one of the most difficult things in my life was making this record, because it's such a personal record, and it wasn't an act. It wasn't just an idea or a concept.
Was it scary to go through all that?
Yes, that was horrifying. When I finished the record I started thinking that it was a career suicide. That maybe I shouldn't be doing this. It went so far out of my element. When you have been known for one thing your whole life and you wake up one morning and start questioning everything you've ever done and you realize that you just can't do this any longer, it's a scary feeling.
Which song on the album was the most difficult to make?
Probably "Stripes" and "Too Heavy For Cherubs", because they are the most personal songs. In the past, when people were coming up to me and saying "Hey, I like you record, it's dope", I was like "ok, cool", because the substance was very limited. But now when people are telling me "Hey, I like your record, it's fucking crazy", it's really strange because they know all those personal things about me…
Do you think that you could have done the same album if you had stayed on Eastern Conference?
Nah. The whole thing was me trying to get of Eastern Conference because if anything, I was selling less records because the label was on such a decline. I just wanted to do something different. Hells' Winter was in my mind but I didn't know what I wanted to do with that record or where I wanted to go with it. All I knew was that I wanted to do something that would be different from everything I had ever done before. Definitive Jux was the perfect home for that because they're notorious for putting out records that don't sound like anything else.
You also had a chance to work with different producers this time, was that important for you?
Yes definitely. I didn't want to make a typical rap record in the vein of what EC had basically installed. With 15 or 20 different rappers featured on your album, hoping that it will sell because of that. I think that the kids are smarter than that, they smell it a mile away and they know that it's not real. I think that one of the reasons that kids look to Definitive Jux for is a lot of honest music. A lot of real things being said. Eastern Conference made good records for the 90's, but that time is passed and that sound is from the 90's.
How do you see your career evolving from now on?
I have no fucking idea, man. The fact that I'm flown around the world to do press is fucking surreal to me. I've done more press for this album than I have done for my whole career. Musically, I want to get into more heavy stuff. I want to do more rock sounding stuff. I think that fusing rock & roll and rap music together is still in its very, very early stages. A lot of people that have made rock-rap songs have never used the right stuff, or didn't get the right people to do it. When you hear it, it's rock & roll people trying to rap but who can't rap. It's just not done the right way. The song "Shoot Frank", that's a totally different approach. It doesn't sound like rock & roll, but it doesn't sound like a typical rap song either.
Thirty or forty years from now, how would you like to be remembered?
That question has a lot to do with why I made this record. If I died tomorrow, I didn't want my last words to the world to be about a "rendezvous with my dick" (laughing), you know? The misadventures of Chris Palko's cock, you know? Movies For The Blind really makes me remember of being 12 years when I jerked of for the first time, and bragging to my friends about it. Now I'm hanging out with girls that I never would have a fucking shot with when I made Movies For The Blind and I don't talk about it. It's just a different state of mind. I didn't want to die and that the only thing anyone remembers is "Wow, that dude had a way with words and was really descriptive about sex and drugs". I hate that record, I hate that I've portrayed myself as anything like that. I didn't want to be remembered for this, and that was a big part of doing this record.
I noticed that there was a couple of references to KMD on your last album, why is that?
Subroc was one of my best friends. I knew Doom, but we didn't get really close until after Subroc died. Actually, Doom just asked me to do a song about him. I said yes immediately. It's a little overwhelming to do because I don't want to a typical tribute record, like "Damn, we miss you man", you know? I want to touch on that whole story about how it happened. I was the last person to see Subroc alive. It's something I've never talked about. I was going to do a song about him on my album but when Doom asked me to do a song for a KMD record, I thought that it would be a better place for such a song. I was there for the metamorphosis of Zevlove X into M.F. Doom. I've watched that happen, and I've watched how Doom lost his mind when his brother died. He put on a metal mask and I put on a transparent one.