The title of a Frank Zappa video and album famously asked, "Does humor belong in music?" That's never been much of a conundrum in hip-hop, where comedy has been an essential part of the form from "Rapper's Delight" onward. It's a particularly popular tactic for white rappers, many of whom have learned that a self-deprecating sense of humor is a good way to avoid being dismissed as a Vanilla Ice wannabe. A legend of sorts in underground hip-hop circles, Cage has been around long enough that his semi-notorious beef with Eminem originated with Cage's belief that the then-up-and-coming superstar was biting his style to go platinum. Bobbito's liner notes for the Farewell Fondle 'Em anthology depict Cage as a flaky genius—a white MC who could be as big as Eminem, but didn't seem interested in stardom—but Cage's work on Smut Peddlers' Porn Again did little to justify such lofty praise. There wasn't anything wrong with Cage's contributions to the Caucasian supergroup's hit debut, but it didn't do much to set him aside from other rappers with a dark sense of humor and notebooks full of O.J. and Monica Lewinsky jokes. Cage's long-overdue solo debut, Movies For The Blind, suggests that Smut Peddlers' group setting merely obscured the rapper's strengths. Freed from the burden of being Mr. Eon's sidekick, Cage is sharper and funnier on Movies For The Blind, where he crafts memorable lyrical vignettes that drip with gallows humor, serrated punch lines, and urban-apocalyptic imagery. DJ Mighty Mi handles most of the production chores, and while his work is typically solid, the disc's best moments come from more adventurous producers, whose vivid production pushes Cage to new heights. The underrated J-Zone, underground hotshot Camu Tao, and El-P radically reconfigure Cage's stream-of-consciousness ranting, while red-hot producer RJD2 perfectly blends his lush, cinematic soundscape with Cage's unhinged nighttime narrative on "Among The Sleep." The J-Zone-produced "Stoney Lodge" suggests One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest hijacked by Prince Paul, while Tao's "Teen Age Death" lives up to its title with a dark, throbbing bassline and quotable punchlines. Movies For The Blind wanes a bit toward the end, but it confirms Cage as a major talent while going a long way toward justifying his reputation as an eccentric genius.

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