Smut Peddlers: Porn Again

Smut Peddlers
Porn Again
Rawkus

 

HERE'S A LITTLE Eminem prehistory you're not likely to hear him mention in any interviews: Back in the mid-Nineties, a quick-tongued white kid made a name for himself rapping about LSD, killing his mom, and being generally deranged. It was a clever ploy--rather than claiming legitimacy on the same grounds as a black rapper--that he was hard because he was discriminated against--he made his bid on grounds of insanity. He was hard not because he was oppressed, but because he was repressed--socially, emotionally, and sexually. White MCs had finally found their raison d'être, and this trailblazer's trademark vocal manipulations made it easier to swallow the fact that he sounded so distinctly, well, non-black.

Only this MC's name wasn't Slim Shady, it was Cage. And as Cage is often quick to point out, he publicly debuted the crazy white-boy shtick in 1993, years before even the hip-hop underground had heard of Eminem. But hip hop, like pro basketball, only has room for one white superstar. Em capitalized on the style first, leaving a hateful Cage to languish in rap's backwaters, surfacing only occasionally to release a dis record aimed at his arch nemesis or appear with his group, the Smut Peddlers.

For whatever reason, Cage conspicuously avoids discussing his rival on Porn Again, save a quick insult directed at Em's wife Kim--a tame topic, considering that Em himself murders the poor woman in his own songs. Instead Cage trades verses with fellow peddler Mr. Eon about the depths of his madness and the wonders of porno. But while Cage may have founder's rights to this persona, his rhymes lack the charisma and biting social commentary that have earned Em wide critical acclaim; they make for a good enough listen but lack crossover potential. With beats more consistently satisfying than those on Em's albums, Porn Again is worth a listen--should one have a strong enough stomach for the subject matter.

 
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