What follows below is a detailed life-long history of Chris Palko, aka Cage. While there is a whole lot of information here, none of it is filler; everything detailed below was instrumental in making Cage who he is at this point, and the story below is one of the most insane, crazy, tortured and triumphant stories you could imagine. Cage’s life has gone from watching his father shoot heroin, to addiction and violence and mental institutions to cutting an album for Columbia Records and being a rising star in the heyday of the NYC independent rap scene, to the final culmination and personal triumph that this album has become. It’s a brand new record from someone who has been through more extreme circumstances than most people could ever imagine, and has come out triumphant and a better person because of it, and whose artistic vision now reflects this.
Lamon Manuel is an independent rap artist from the Southside of Chicago, and founding member of the prolific rap brotherhoods Tomorrow Kings and FUTURE CULT LEADERS of AMERICA (FCLA). Manuel is a writer’s writer whose art is a campaign for personhood, aiming to break the presumed rap binary: “positive, conscious rap” or “gangsta rap.” His sad-boy-adult-angst, smart-rap style is imaginative, humorous, richly poetic and is marked by gratuitous film and literary references. Contrary to the performance-artist paradigm of accepting the sacrifice of writing for song beats and/or performance, Lamon Manuel has perfected a recording and performance style that is just as captivating as his writing. His beat taste is perfectly congruent to his writing style and larger than life performance. Driven by the idea that any performance could be one’s last, Manuel melds rapping and an element of theater to performance to deliver an unforgettable experience for every crowd. Manuel recently described his work as “a series of choreographed panic attacks when played forward.” Padded beneath lush imagery, Manuel’s work presents as vulnerable. He invites an intimate look into topics typically cloaked in silence, such as Black mental health, the dissonance between non-Black fan enjoyment of Black art and real life engagement with Black people, substance and sexual abuse, body image issues, experiences in love from the Black male perspective, family dynamics, and male privilege.
QWEL & MAKER
Hailed by many as one of the most skilled and innovative lyricist since hip hop’s conception, Qwel is not your average ambiguous applause monger. Seasoned within Chicago’s unrelenting battle circuit, Qwel found his niche among his soon to be crew at University of Chicago’s WHPK Wednesday night rap show. The show, a staple in Chicago underground history, was then hosted by DJ Natural and Kid Knish. There he would meet both Denizen Kane and Qwazaar and soon after they would form Typical Cats. The project that they shortly after released, would instantly gain both national and international acclaim. When Qwel and Maker first discussed the possibility of collaborating on the first of the four horsemen/seasons albums neither one of them could have fully known exactly what they were unleashing on the underground hip hop world. With Makers rare and completely unprecedented production style, Qwel saw an opportunity to return to true school ripping it with the proper canvas to topple topics that the cornier, true school emcees wouldn’t dare. With a much more up beat and banging approach to the songs Qwel and Maker dropped one of the greatest underground hip hop albums of all time, “The Harvest”.