Chris Palko was born in Würzburg, Germany, to American parents. His father was stationed on a West German military base as a member of the military police. Palko lived there until the age of four when his father was dishonorably discharged for selling and using heroin, and the family was sent back to the United States where they lived in Middletown, New York. His father would often force Palko to pull homemade tourniquets around his arm as he injected heroin. At the age of eight, Palko's father was arrested during a standoff with state troopers after threatening his family with a shotgun. By the time Palko was expelled from high school, his mother had remarried twice, and he was beaten by his stepfather Frank. Palko began using PCP, cocaine, LSD, cannabis and alcohol, and was sent to live with his uncle on a German military base, where he was beaten and sent home after a year.
Palko was arrested several times for drug possession and fighting in the streets. When he faced jail time for violating probation, his mother convinced the judge that he was mentally unstable, and he was sent to the Stony Lodge psychiatric hospital for a two week evaluation. He stayed in the hospital for sixteen months, where he was a part of a small group used to test fluoxetine, commonly used in Prozac. After being misdiagnosed and placed on the drug, he became suicidal and made several attempts to kill himself, including hanging himself with his shoelaces and saving his lithium dose for a month before ingesting all of them at once.
1991-2001: Career beginnings
When Palko was released at the age of eighteen, he pursued a career as a rapper, giving himself the pseudonym "Alex", after the protagonist of Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange. After hiring a manager and recording a demo, he was introduced to rapper Pete Nice, and Cage was featured on the 1993 album Dust to Dust. Pete Nice also introduced Palko to radio personality Bobbito García, who featured Palko on his program several times, increasing his reputation among New York's underground hip hop scene, where he became associated with KMD, Kurious Jorge, K-Solo, Godfather Don, Necro, Artifacts, Pharoahe Monch and El-P. Palko signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, but frequently recorded while intoxicated, and the label found his efforts to be unsatisfactory. Palko briefly put his career on hold and his drug use increased.
When García founded the label Fondle 'Em Records, he offered Palko a record deal, and Cage released a single featuring the songs "Radiohead" and "Agent Orange" in 1997, to success and acclaim. Following the release of The Slim Shady EP in December 1997, Palko accused Detroit-based rapper Eminem of imitating his style, however in the single "Role Model", Eminem ironically jests that he rapped over a Cage mixtape. After several more singles with Fondle 'Em, Palko met Mr. Eon and DJ Mighty Mi of The High & Mighty, and the trio formed the group Smut Peddlers, releasing the album Porn Again on Rawkus Records in 2001. The album peaked at #10 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, #43 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and #184 on the Billboard 200, while its single "That Smut" peaked at #9 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and #96 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
2002-2009: Eastern Conference and Definitive Jux era
Palko signed with The High & Mighty's Eastern Conference Records, releasing his debut album, Movies for the Blind, on August 6, 2002. It peaked at #12 on the Heatseekers chart, #14 on the Top Independent Albums chart, #58 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and #193 on the Billboard 200. Palko later stated, in 2006, that the album "sort of glorified drugs" and that he felt the album was "crazy for the sake of being crazy [...] . During this period, Palko formed the group The Weathermen, named after the left-wing political organization. The…