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Mr. Lif and Cage 

With Camu Tao, Yak Ballz, and Iyan Anomolie. Thursday, June 22, at the Grog Shop.

A former drug thug and mental patient, Cage realized that he had a knack for turning past aggressions into rap introspection while spending 18 months at Stony Lodge Psychiatric Hospital in New York. His first full-length album, 2002's Movies for the Blind and its chilling A Clockwork Orange homage "Agent Orange," cemented the rapper's rep as a storytelling mad scientist, recreating his warped childhood memories in hip-hop homilies. His latest album, Hell's Winter, was one of the best of 2005, produced by El-P with the help of heavyweights like DJ Shadow, Yo La Tengo's James McNew, and Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw, Head Automatica).

Onstage, Cage will join labelmate Mr. Lif, whose just-released Mo' Mega is El-P's latest hip-hop production. Backed by spacey breakbeats, the talented Mr. Lif can weave rhymes as phat as his long, thick dreads, but it's Cage's caustic rap narratives (sounding like Buck 65 covering Eminem) that make this Def Jux showcase so appealing.

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