For the most part, Cure for Paranoia consists of writer and singer McCloud, producer Jay Analog and engineer Tomahawk Jones (local musicians rotate in and out to play keys, drums, bass and so on). The three live and work in the same house and studio. They released the album Cure for Paranoia in 2018; it was the first project they put together and issued as a collective. By Any Means Necessary is the project they put together while stuck in quarantine unable to do anything else but create.
McCloud has known since second or third grade he wanted to be a musician. Growing up in Irving and Coppell, he was exposed to professional musicianship early on by his mom’s then-boyfriend.
“One night I got snowed in at his house while he was working on music, and he had some artists over, and then I just started writing too,” McCloud recalls. “Then I performed the song for them — and, like, I’m sure it was shit, but it just got such a great response from them that I even tried. And I was like, ‘Oh, shit, I’m going to just keep doing this.’”
McCloud, who for many years wanted to be a pastor, started taking steps to make a musician’s life happen when he was around 16 years old.
“From middle school to 16, I kind of fell off of writing music as much,” he says. “I was more into theater and the church and stuff like that. And then basically, when I was 16, I met up with this guy Casper who put me onto Outcast and the Fugees and Badu and shit like that. And it kind of like reignited the flame to want to pursue music full-time. So at 16, it was a hobby, but I was the best one out of my friends doing that hobby, so I was like, ‘I might as well pursue it more.’”
Combining his passion and talent for writing with his warm, resonant voice, McCloud founded Cure for Paranoia six years later in 2015, when he was 22. Another six years later, By Any Means Necessary has come together through a similar combination of intense intentionality and organic flow.
"I guess the concept of the album By Any Means Necessary is, like, just push it out, create shit, put out content by any means necessary and stop taking yourself so serious.” – Cameron McCloud
“By Any Means Necessary was really just [put together] in the weeks that we were in quarantine,” McCloud says. “Like, Jay would just be making beats, and I would rap to them. Or people would send me beats ... and I would rap to those. And then one day I was just like, ‘Yo, why don’t we put all these on something?’ ... So that was honestly like a month.”
By Any Means Necessary marks a change in Cure for Paranoia’s working style and a deliberate shift in its musical style. Songs like “99,” “Dolla Dolla Bill Y’all” and “Buffalo” incorporate the beats and sounds of mainstream rap more overtly than does the collective’s earlier work.
“Kind of recently I’ve been trying to delve more into the rap beat stuff,” McCloud says. “A lot of our stuff on Spotify is more, like, neo-soul, jazz-infused R&B gumbo shit. Not to say shit like it’s shit. It’s just like really different. My personal influence is André 3000, Badu, Kendrick Lamar — that’s top tier, not what I aspire to be like, but where I pull a lot of my musical influence from. But with Jay Analog and Tomahawk Jones, like, they have other stuff that influences them. So that’s why the stuff that we create sounds like a mix of different sounds.”
“Dolla Dolla Bill Y’all” — with the lyric “I left quarantine to see a boo thing” — just about sums up the EP, McCloud says. The song is about quarantine — or, more specifically, about hanging out with a girl during quarantine.
“It’s not taking itself too serious,” McCloud says regarding the song and its lyrics. “And that’s one of the major things that I had to learn — especially when getting back into the writing process. It was just like, ‘I can’t keep taking this shit so seriously and thinking everything has to sound a certain way, everything has to sound this way, everything has to be in orchestral-sounding projects.’ Like it can literally just be me rapping about shit that I did. So yeah, I guess the concept of the album By Any Means Necessary is, like, just push it out, create shit, put out content by any means necessary and stop taking yourself so serious.”
McCloud had to take himself deadly seriously to announce the Keep It 100 challenge, for which he wrote a verse per day for 100 days and wrapped up last month on his mother’s birthday. Indeed, he announced the challenge because he didn’t take himself seriously enough, he says.
“I wanted to announce it so that I’d have some accountabilibuddies,” he explains. “And then you go back into the by-any-means-necessary thing. Because there were days where I was fucking hungover and didn’t want to write a verse. There were days when I had been so busy and literally it was down to the very last minute that I could write a verse and put it out… There was just days when I didn’t want to do it. But falling back into not taking myself so seriously — just write it. Like, you don’t have time to overthink it. You just write about what’s going on.”
McCloud is embedded in liminal spaces: between genres; between methodical craft and spontaneous creation; between deadly seriousness and a let-it-be approach. And he’s thriving. He’s collaborating with rapper Bun B to create a music video that will synthesize his favorite scenes filmed for the Keep It 100 challenge. He’s writing an album that will include songs based on his favorite verses written for the challenge. And he’s releasing a Keep It 100 book with all of the verses and illustrations and affirmations. All of this is coming out at the end of August.
Meanwhile, McCloud co-wrote the music for and is singing in the musical Cursed!, which was set to open at Deep Ellum Art Co. on July 22 but was postponed because of a surge in COVID-19 cases. He will perform at Double Wide with the DJ Ronnie Heart on July 31. And he is working with singer and songwriter Angélica Rahe of Austin on an album that will come out in October under McCloud’s name — a first for him. A single from the forthcoming album will drop in August alongside a music video.
“It’s been like a sort of limbo just waiting to get all of that stuff together,” McCloud says. “It’s just a real shock to the system to go from just doing something every single day, and now you’re just waiting to put all of that stuff that you worked on together. It’s a weird place to be in, but it’s also, like — you have to stop and look back at what you’ve done and appreciate that before you jump to the next thing.”