Richard McCloud Jr., better known to friends and fans around the world as the musician and artist Rich McCloud, is an American artist, musician, rapper, poet, singer-songwriter and producer. Born in Pahokee Fl. to poor hard working parents who did their best to raise him amongst the chaos of the ghetto streets of Lake Worth and West Palm Beach to which they relocated to soon after he was born.
Raised in Palm Beach County wasn’t a walk in the park. In his earlier years, Rich McCloud lived and grew up in the city of Lake Worth with a crack cocaine addicted father and deaf, disabled and illiterate mother whom only had about a 3rd grade education. His childhood was troubled, living basically in a crack house on any given weekend or week night, with local crack heads paying his construction worker dad a visit with the goodies they just copped off the streets. To the bathroom they went…all 3 to 5 of them. This was the young Rich McCloud’s common reality from the age of 5 to 11.
Rich McCloud was no stranger to violence, drugs and drug dealers. His frequently rode shotgun with his father to buy crack cocaine from the neighborhood “dope boys” to minimize the chance of being robbed or stopped by the police. Having a child in the passenger seat proved to do the job very well.
Beyond the normalized chaos, Rich was a pretty happy, fun-loving and adventurous kid. However, he really didn’t get to have a normal childhood, mostly due to being a highly “parentified” child (a child in an extreme care-taking role of a parent figure). This happened because after his mom and dad separated at the age of 11, he had to be his moms, eyes, ears and husband/father-like caretaker until well into his mid twenties.
After his parents divorced at the age of 11, him, his younger brother of 5 years and his mom moved to the housing projects of the infamous Dumbar Village, better known as “Poke-n-Bean Projects” in the city of West Palm Beach off of Tamerand Ave Boulevard…one of the most violent and crime filled streets in Palm Beach County. Here he witnessed all types of violence, drug dealing and the like. Through all this, he still found time to do one of his favorite activities…drawing. Naturally talented with drawing since a kid, he was a child prodigy, able to draw accurately anything he saw. At the age of 12 while attending Roosevelt middle school, located directly across the street from “The Poke-n-Bean”, his 7th grade art teacher noticed his talent as well as lack of family and community support, and help him audition and get accepted into the new and prestigious “Palm Beach County School of The Arts” (now named Dryfoos School of The Arts).
This was Rich McCloud’s best experience with school. He was finally at home with fellow artist, musicians, dancers and actors! Great as this experience was, it didn’t last very long. Though he thrived as an artist and loved his new surroundings, he was kick out after only 1 year due to poor academic performance. Having a heavy burden at home and no guidance nor support, proved to be too much for him to sustain. This was heartbreaking for him. After a few years of going back to attending regular school, he dropped out and began working construction, small time hustling and working odd jobs.
Along with his natural ability for drawing, he also had another talent he equally loved. Music. He had been writing songs since the age of 8. Music was just as big a part of his life as art was. He and his cousin and best friend James McNeal a.k.a.“Bean” (deceased at 13) grew up singing, dancing and aspiring to be the next boy band like there then favorite band “New Edition”.
With his best friend Bean no longer around, at the age of 16, Rich began smoking weed and drinking almost daily to cope with his demons. At the age of 18, by invitation of a friend, Rich decided to pack his bags and head for Brooklyn NY to pursue his love for music. By this time he had already created a buzz in his hometown of West Palm Beach as a formidable rapper and performer. Maybe he could do the same in NY, “The Big City of Dreams!” Off to Brooklyn NY he went. He moved in with his good friend “Dre” whom was also like a big brother he never had.
During the day Rich worked as a barber to support himself, a skill he learned at 11. At night he performed at block parties in Brooklyn as well as a few venues in Manhattan. He managed to attract a manager and began playing shows opening for the legendary dance hall pioneer Loui Rankin, who played a role in Hype Williams 1998 movie “Belly” and was also signed to the same management company. Everywhere Rich performed, people loved his sound and presence! He once mesmerized the famous and late rapper Craig Mack and his entourage outside of a nightclub one night in a freestyle session after a performance he did in Manhattan. Things seemed promising for rich as he was gaining recognition, invitations and acceptance in NYC with some pillar venues and producers. However the guilt and shame of leaving his mother and younger brother back in Florida proved too much for his conscience, so he left Brooklyn mid-stride and went back home to Florida.
Back in Florida feeling defeated, he started working odd jobs again and began selling weed and crack cocaine admittedly to fit in in search for his manhood. He was a very creative and kind soul with no gangster or thug bone in his body, thus hating the route he was choosing…selling death to people in his community. This killed him on the inside. He cared too much for the addicts he sold drugs to and felt terrible for it.
At the age of 21, he broke down. Angry, depressed and fed up, he began contemplating robbing rich white folks to get ahead. Seeing no way out of the vicious cycle he was in, he unexpectedly turned to religion, becoming a fully committed, mission oriented church goer for the next decade.
During this time he found out he had a gift for connecting with people on a group level. He could inspire almost anyone with his words and sincere spirit. During this time he help to convert many people to church. This was also the first time in his life he felt apart of a stable community. He stopped smoking weed and drinking everyday…he even stopped having sex. During this time he was able to attend college and get a degree in Graphic Design. About 5 years later,at a campus ministry church event, he met Rachelle, his now wife of over 15 years. They have 5 kids together.
In the process of almost a decade of bible thumping, converting people and following the teachings of Jesus Christ, Rich began to discern the hypocrisy, corruption, religious abuse and the financial/political agendas of his church and organized religion in general. Being a bold man of conviction, He began to addressed these issues to the top influencers and leaders in his church only to be met with blatant dismissiveness, disrespect and disregard for the bible and it’s truths. He finally saw the light. The “Church” as he knew it was all about the bottom line…money, power and the control of resources. Getting nowhere with addressing these issues and attempting to change things, he left organized religion along with his wife and first born child at the time, realizing the need to free himself from the years of the social conditioning of religion, culture and society at large. He also began to uncover and see the negative effects from the conditioning he received from his own upbringing, family and community. This realization set him on a path of self love, healing and reconnecting to his true nature, hopes and dreams.
After many, many years of managing his mother’s daily life (until he was 26yrs old), such as making doctor’s appointments, arranging transportation, grocery shopping and protecting her from herself (psudo-suicde behaviors) and being taken advantage of from her so-called “friends and family”, he decided it was time to make a big change. Caretaking for his mom was exhausting and traumatic for him, as he had to commit most of his childhood and teenage years to this reality, not being able to pursue his own passions and dreams. One time he even risked his own life by getting into a physical altercation with his mom’s drug dealer boyfriend at the time. It took him a long time and much suffering to realize that he could not save his mom from her own adult choices and trauma. He also could not keep running her life and dealing with her personal issues while building his own life which consisted of attending college (he got his G.E.D after dropping out of school in the 10th grade), working full-time and supporting his wife and toddler son. He soon made the decision to pack his family up and move to Oregon, away from his mother who was adimate about staying in Florida with her “friends and family”. He finally built up the courage to leave his mother and the surroundings he’d grown accustomed to. This was by far the hardest decision of his life.
Oregon proved to be a place of new beginnings. He seeker and adventurer, he decided to pick up the guitar at the age of 30 after being encouraged by an amazing bluegrass artist to do so. He was told that if he could focus for 5 years and put in the time, he could learn to play the guitar and become pretty proficient at playing almost any song he wanted. Being encouraged by such an accomplished guitarist and artist, Rich McCloud took on the challenge of learning the guitar. Within 3 years, He was performing with his guitar at local open mics and even playing gigs around town. In this same time period, he began attending the Ashland Art Academy (Now Atelier Maui) in Ashland Oregon. He was once again surrounded by fellow artist and musicians in which he thrived. While there he was academically and classically trained in drawing and painting for 2 years by the Russian master painter Simyon Bilmes. During this time him and his wife had 2 more children.
About 2 years later, Rich McCloud decided to move to the Salem, the capitol city of Oregon. He soon formed a band and starting gigging heavily for the next 8 years. Rich McCloud became a local celebrity, playing at every venue that would book him. They all did, and loved the energy and show he brought.
After now leaving the traditional church and religion for over a decade, he realized church and religion weren’t necessary for him to know or have a relationship with God. There was no longer a need for him to be saved. He instead learned to know, understand, accept, forgive and save himself by the God within. The universal All Knowing, All Powerful, All Loving God. Rich still partly credits his new found freedom to the teachings of Jesus Christ. “If it wasn’t for Jesus making me aware that the Kingdom of God is inside me and that I must first seek the Kindom of God and all it’s righteousness, I would still be a slave to religion, culture and the power, political and social man made constructs of the past and present.” “Jesus is my dude, and if he was alive today, most likely the religious folks that claim to “follow him” would not recognize him, and kill him again.” “He brings ultimate freedom…that which cannot be controlled, only appreciated and loved.” Rich McCloud’s view of God is much broader and different now.
His new mission and purpose in this lifetime is to make music to free beings from the bond and suffering of the negative and pervasive constructs of culture, religion, politics, childhood trauma, addiction and the like. Through music he is an advocate for love, free-will, world peace, self-acceptance, and the pursuit of happiness and living life to the full on one’s own terms without taking the freedoms of another. “I’m all about, healing, growing, loving and living my best life now!” This is what he is truly about everyday, and his fans see it and love him for it.
His songs are profound. His music is a perfect mix of HipHop, Pop, Blues, Rock, Reggae and folk. Critics and fans say his music sounds like a combination/mash-up of Bob Marley, Tupac, John Legend, Wyclef and Nina Simone all rolled up in one! He mesmerizes with a full band, just him and his guitar or simply as spoken word.
In 2009 Rich released his first album titled “Where Do We Go?” and in 2015 he release an acoustic album with just him and his guitar titled “Rich McCloud Acoustic Sessions Vol. 1”
In March 2019 He began recording his first full length studio album entitled “Redeemed” due to be released by the end of 2019.