by: Jazlyn Mercer
This Is Just The Beginning
Nervous, fifth grader Cameron McCloud signed up for his school talent show. He didn’t know anyone at the school. He had moved from school to school so many times, and thought this might be a way for him to make friends.
And, to use his new found talents, too.
Growing up poor it was hard to make connections. He and his single mom moved from apartment to apartment. McCloud was hungry to find friendships. This was his moment to be recognized. This was his shot.
He is a rapper. Rapping is his poetry, he says. He remembers getting on the stage at Pinkerton Elementary School in Coppell, Texas and performing an original from his soul rap about moving from school to school and wanting to be heard and known.
That was one of the pivotal moments that would set him up for his future on stage. In high school McCloud began to watch people freestyle at school. He listened to his influences Lauryn Hill, Outkast, and Lil’ Wayne. He became obsessed with hip hop, and with becoming a rapper. He found his dream.
“When I turned 16 I realized music was my full time gig,” said McCloud. “I dropped all my plan Bs.”
But making a career as a rapper didn’t happen overnight. McCloud says that during his freshman year of college he worked on a mixtape. After his freshman year ended, he dropped out of college to promote his mixtape. He sold his tapes to pay his rent.
And then, something almost-magical happened. Someone who bought one of his CDs helped work on the music for Kanye West’s song “Power.” He would be the first one to help McCloud start his rap career. He would help McCloud produce his own music.
That was just the start.
Right Place, Right Time
At a 97.9 FM music party McCloud was approached by a manager. He was scouted out by the manager, and they began working together. That manager would introduce him to the people that would become his new band members.
After the members cut ties with that manager they began to work on their music unassociated with any manager or label, and began to work freely.
After a trip to Colorado, the newly formed band, under the name “Cure for Paranoia,” rushed home to go to an Erykah Badu event at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum that she was speaking at. McCloud found a way to sneak backstage, and before he could get removed he began free styling for Badu. The video can be found here. The video got enough traction for Badu to eventually allow them to perform at her birthday party.
Now, “Cure for Paranoia,” has opened for rapper Nas, and is finishing their second studio album. Badu will be featured narrating on the album.
Though the band has found many successes, McCloud says it’s important to stay humble.
“There could only be one person in the audience, but that doesn’t change anything.”
This Is Therapy
McCloud has found his therapy, his nutrition. Rapping is more to him than just a performance.
“Two or three years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar/paranoid schizophrenia, and music has been the therapy that I needed.”
Music has been McCloud’s personal “Cure for Paranoia.” He hopes that one day his music can inspire others to be cured from paranoia as well. He believes that his transparency is what makes his music so authentic and inspires others.
“I don’t know what I would do without music,” he said. About mental illness he says, “I’m transparent and I speak on it. I’m the first rapper to get paid to work through it. This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
His mom was cautious that music would not be a full time career, and she worried for him to pursue it at first.
“Thanks for not listening to me,” said his mom. Not only has music been therapy, but it has also been the first time McCloud has felt his mom be proud of him, he says.
One of the band’s songs, “Normal Person,” lyrics go:
Humans will screw over humans
And then turn around and justify
What they are doing
Using excuses like
“We’re only human.”
McCloud uses his poetry in a therapeutic way, and he hopes it provides therapy for his audiences. Every Thursday, his group performs at a barbershop/bar called High and Tight in Deep Ellum.
Irish McCrary was just a fan, but now is a drummer in the band.
“Being in the band is a dream come true,” he said.
In 2017, “Cure for Paranoia,” released their album “Cure for Paranoia: Side A.” McCloud also collaborates with other bands such as Denton based “Body English.”
The band will join Celo Green on tour in November. McCloud is excited for the future. He has come a long way since that fifth grade talent show.