Photo credit: Kevin Porier.

Pop Music

How Cure for Paranoia Became ‘Poster Boys’ of the New Deep Ellum

The soul-infused hip-hop outfit has become the new face of the storied Dallas neighborhood. Now the band is taking Deep Ellum worldwide.

Lounging on scruffy leather couches in Deep Ellum’s Drugstore Cowboy, Cameron McCloud, Jay Analog, Tomahawk Jonez and Stanley Francisko are a striking bunch. The four are a stylized tangle of shaggy hair and jewelry.

The musicians that make up Dallas hip-hop group Cure for Paranoia have their own bold energy and personal styles which would best be described as aggressively funky, a style that carries through to their music. Between Jonez’s and Analog’s relaxed, old-school beats, Francisko’s airy vocals, and McCloud’s brisk lyrical delivery, the band has designed its own brand of “trippy soul-infused hip-hop.”

The group formed when the four guys took a “doomsday road trip.” Following the advice of some conspiracy theorist friends, they packed up and headed to the Four Corners, which is apparently an ideal place to wait out the apocalypse.

When an earth-shattering meteor didn’t hit, inspiration did.

“On the way from Amarillo to Colorado Springs like 8 songs got written,” Jonez says.

Having recently been diagnosed with bipolar paranoid schizophrenia, McCloud found clarity in a hot-boxed rental car. Making music with Analog, Jonez, and Francisko gave him peace of mind.

“He said, ‘this is my cure for paranoia.’ Instantly, everyone’s eyes lit up,” Jonez says.

By the time they returned home, the band was born.

In the following months, Cure for Paranoia quickly made a name for themselves in Dallas. Within three months of forming, the band opened for Sarah Jaffe and Ludacris, and performed at Erykah Badu’s birthday party. Before Cure for Paranoia, the musicians had dabbled in Dallas hip-hop as solo artists but never quite felt at home.

“I was looking for a place where I wanted to be in life, where I felt comfortable doing music and it wasn’t there,” McCloud says. “We carved out our own place.”

Their place, it seems, is musically all over, and geographically one specific spot. The band prides itself on mixing “a lot of genres…tastefully,” making their music difficult to categorize. But their literal place in Dallas is certain.

“Deep Ellum is really the physical manifestation of the music scene in Dallas. It’s slowly on the come-up,” McCloud says.

From weekly shows at Three Links and Drugstore Cowboy to “group therapy” jam sessions twice a month at High & Tight, Cure For Paranoia has put itself at the forefront of the neighborhood’s musical community.

“We’ve kind of been the Deep Ellum poster boys,” Jonez says. “Every club we can play we do play.”

“I call it playing Monopoly,” McCloud adds with a laugh.

But with the release of Cure for Paranoia’s first full album coming in the fall, the band is ready to expand its stomping grounds. A tour with stops in Europe, New York, and Los Angeles is in the works for the end of the year.

“We’re ready to have that community everywhere else now,” Jonez says.

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