Richard McCloud Jr., better known as the musician and artist Rich McCloud to fans and friends around the world, 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 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 Child hood 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 the goodies thy 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 lesson 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 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. 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. 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, 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 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, 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 to sustain. This was heartbreaking for him and after a few years of attending regular school, he dropped out and began working construction, small time hustling and odd jobs.
Along with his natural ability for drawing, he also 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 “New Edition”.
from the age of 16, starting at 14, he began smoking weed and drinking daily to cope with his demons…all day. At the age of 18, Rich McCloud by invitation of a friend decided to pack his bags and head for Brooklyn NY to pursue his love for music. By this time he had already created a home town buzz as a formidable rapper and performer…maybe he could do the same in NY, “The Big City of Dreams!” During the day he 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 the 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 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 and acceptance in NYC with some pillar venues and producers. However the guilt and shame of leaving his mother and younger brother by 5 years back in Florida proved too much for his conscience, so he Brooklyn mid-stride and went back home to Florida.
Back in Florida he 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 hatting the route he was choosing…selling death to people in his community. 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 turned to religion. He became 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. This was the first time in his life he apart of a stable community. He soon after was able to attend college and get a degree in Graphic Design. He stopped smoking weed and drinking everyday…he even stopped having sex. Here he met his now wife of now over 15 years. They have 5 kids together.
In the process of almost a decade of bible thumping 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. 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, and left organized religion along with his wife and first born child at the time, realizing he need to free himself from the years of the social conditioning of religion, culture and society at large. He also began to see the negative conditioning he received from his own family and community
After many, many years of managing his mother’s daily life (until 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”. This 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 life by getting into a physical altercation with his mom’s drug dealer boyfriend at the time. It took him a long time to realize that he could save his mom from her own choices and trauma. He also could not keep this up while 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.