Shia LaBeouf-Directed Video Puts Cage’s Dark Hip-Hop On The Map

Unsettling 'I Never Knew You' clip mirrors the rapper's angsty rhymes.

In a 2007 Vanity Fair profile piece, actor Shia LaBeouf expressed a desire to make a film about the life of Chris Palko — a.k.a. [artist id="1231250"]Cage[/artist] — calling the rapper’s life “a ‘Raging Bull’ of hip-hop.”

And he’s not exaggerating. There have been plenty of hard knocks in Palko’s life. Born to a heroin-addicted father and a distant mother, he battled drug addiction and was institutionalized for 18 months, where he became a test subject for Prozac and tried several times to end his life before discovering hip-hop as a vehicle to express his inner-torment.

The status of the Palko film isn’t exactly clear, but in the meantime, the two have forged a friendship, which led to the LaBeouf-directed video for “I Never Knew You,” a song from Cage’s upcoming Depart From Me album and the title track from a free EP he’s giving away through MTV2.com later Monday (May 18).

MTV News was on the set of the “I Never Knew You” video back in March, but it would be fair to say that we didn’t know how the finished product would turn out.

We’re pretty blown away with what LaBeouf and Cage have come up with, because the video is dark and gripping — a visual accompaniment to Cage’s knotty, noir-ish rap. It’s a tale of obsession and depression and wanting, the kind of stuff Cage has been chronicling for years now, with much critical (but very little commercial) acclaim. Now, thanks to LaBeouf’s video, there’s a fairly good chance people are finally going to hear — and see — what the fuss is all about.

The detuned chords, Cage’s off-step cadence, LaBeouf’s deft use of color (or lack thereof): This is angsty, downright unsettling hip-hop … the kind of intellectual, terrifying horror-core Eminem can only dream of making (seriously, compare this to Em’s blood-and-guts-filled “3 A.M.” video and tell us which one is scarier). It’s full of real pain, seething with real darkness. And it’s great that — with LaBeouf’s help — people are going to be able to feel that terror themselves.