Cage Hell's Winter

Cage’s sophomore album is a musically mature step above his violence-drenched and drug-induced Movies for the Blind debut and collaborative efforts with the High & Mighty (the sexual Smut Peddlers) and Camu Tao (the conceptual Nighthawks). This time around, Cage (aka Chris Palko) really opens up on autobiographical tracks to reveal the circumstances that resulted in much of his back catalogue of excess, often in horrific detail. He discusses his father’s gruesome heroin addiction ("Too Heavy For Cherubs”) and wife-beating ("Stripes”), as well as his own 18-month stay at Stony Lodge Psychiatric Hospital ("The Death of Chris Palko”) that served as the educational impetus for the character of Cage; and the title track sums it all up with heavy guitar emphasis. Plus, Cage trashes Eastern Conference for the shady handling of business and lack of support for his Movies album on "Public Property,” gets political with guest Jello Biafra on "Grand Ol Party Crasher,” and discusses death more seriously than previously before on "Scenester” and "Subtle Art of the Breakup Song.” Production from El-P, Camu Tao, Blockhead, Pawl, RJD2, and even DJ Shadow, give the album a consistent Def Jux sound, while the lack of a single filler track makes Hell’s Winter a definite classic and possibly this year’s best hip-hop album. (Definitive Jux)