Chris Palko has been through hell and back. Professionally known as Cage, the rapper’s troubled upbringing has long been a popular topic: his father’s heroin addiction, an abusive stepfather, his own drug use and violent behavior, stints in the psych ward and several suicide attempts — it’s the kind of story that sounds like a Hollywood movie. Apparently, Transformers’ Shia LaBeouf had the same idea: He’s expressed interest in playing Cage onscreen. Incidentally, the actor directed the video for “I Never Knew You,” the first single from the rapper’s new album, Depart From Me, which continues the more personal approach of 2005’s Hell’s Winter but goes even deeper. The result is one of the most intense hip-hop records since Eminem’s Slim Shady LP. Depart’s production, which includes contributions from people like El-P and Blockhead, is aimed at a wider audience — the heavy guitars and synths give Cage more pop appeal. While a lot of rappers have cashed in by pretending to have a lot of baggage in their pasts, Cage is the real deal. This time around, he may finally get the spotlight he’s always deserved. Yak Ballz, Vinnie Scullo and Vice Verses open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $12. — Eddie Fleisher
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