His lyrics are distinguished from most rappers in that they are extremely personal, though sometimes exaggerated to cartoonish levels (especially on his debut Movies for the Blind). Despite many of his albums and appearances on mixtapes and compilations feature dark portraits of entirely fictional characters, the personal touches on his solo releases has gotten Cage a great deal of appraisal as a lyricist and artist of great talent.
Not to be confused with actor Nicolas Cage, avant-garde composer John Cage, the Heavy Metal band of the same name, the 1989 action film of the same name and its sequel, both starring Reb Brown and Lou Ferrigno, or the Marvel Comics character Luke Cage.
In recent years he's started to become known to mainstream audiences for a few things. For one, his association with actor Shia Labeouf. Shia's a fan of Cage's music, and he directed the music video for "I Never Knew You" and the short film Maniac, featuring Cage and Kid Cudi as a pair of serial killers. He's also (somewhat infamously) known for his feud with Detroit rapper Eminem, who Cage claimed at the time was ripping off his style. Since then he's admitted that he may have overreacted, since both rappers started out at pretty much the same time and Eminem could not possibly have ripped off Cage's style due to having already developed his style in a separate rap scene without ever having heard Cage's music. This inconsistency hasn't stopped Eminem's own Fan Dumb from accusing Cage of the same thing (i.e. ripping off his style).
- Movies for the Blind
- Hell's Winter
- Depart From Me
- Kill the Architect
Cage and his works provide examples of:
- Alternative Hip Hop
- Ax-Crazy: In "Among the Sleep" ("ax in a dead whore")
- Big Apple Sauce: Cage's hometown is New York City, and he often makes reference to New York in his lyrics, especially in the song "Good Morning", off his Def Jux debut Hell's Winter
- Black Comedy: A lot of Movies for the Blind. One example being "Down The Left Hand Path": He convinces a group of teenagers to commit suicide, then they haunt the wrong address (because they're "stupid dead motherfuckers"). Frequently occurred in his early material. Notably, the reference in "Teenage Death" to New York's "two burning middle fingers", as well as other references to the September 11th attacks (such as suggesting that the terrorists should have flown a plane into the MTV building as well) on the same album, which came out less than a year after the attacks.
- Dream Within a Dream: "Among the Sleep" contains this. Among the events occurring in the song include a school shooting and committing suicide in a church, wondering if he'll end up going to heaven, going to hell, or just wake up...which he does, followed by him taking a bong hit and turning the TV to A Clockwork Orange.
- Gallows Humor: "Suicidal Failure" is partly this, partly horror.
- Horror Hunger: The cover of Depart From Me.
- Kids Rock: On "Beat Kids".
- Military Brat: Raised on a military base until his father was discharged.
- Older Than They Look: He was born in 1973, but looks like he's in his 20s.
- Political Rap: "Grand Ol' Party Crash", with Jello Biafra as "The Dubya", who, by the end of the track, snorts cocaine and says "I'll fuck anything that moves!"
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Rick Rubin called Cage a "wigga".
- Rape and Revenge: On the song "Lord Have Mercy" where a woman who was molested by her Pedophile Priest gets revenge by murdering him in cold blood ("See if He forgives!")
- Rap Rock: Depart from Me.
- Some notable samples in Movies for the Blind:
- "Probably Causes Paranoia" takes dialog from Six Feet Under about marijuana and PCP, and smoking a joint dipped in actual embalming fluid.
- "Agent Orange" samples Wendy Carlos' performance of "The Funeral of Queen Mary" from A Clockwork Orange and dialogue from Lone Wolf and Cub (the latter of which was previously sampled in GZA's "Liquid Swords").
- "Under Satan's Authority" has samples of alien language from Mars Attacks!.
- "Pussy, Money And War" ends with a sample from a Mortal Kombat video game saying "Cage wins!"
- More A Clockwork Orange samples in "Radiohead", the B-side of the "Agent Orange" single.
- "Ballad of Worms" samples I Would Hurt a Fly by Built To Spill
- Some notable samples in Movies for the Blind:
- Shout Out: The multiple A Clockwork Orange references and samples in his early work. And the They Live-inspired cover art of Movies for the Blind.
- Stalker with a Crush: "I Never Knew You" to a nightmarish extent.
- Take That!: A couple of lines on Movies for the Blind take shots at Eminem:Used to pistol-whip until Shady made it look pussy
- The Rival: Eminem was once this. At one point, Cage decided not to continue with the feud, and moved on to more personal lyrical subject matter, and away from the more typical Hip-Hop elements of his early work.
- Write What You Know: A lot of Cage's music takes a very autobiographical approach. For example, many of the tracks on Movies for the Blind were inspired by his actual experiences in the Stony Lodge psychiatric institution.