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The Startin’ LineUp Returns From Hiatus With Fresh New Music

Written by on September 11, 2020

Chicago hip-hop group The Startin’ LineUp has been quiet for nearly a decade. But changing technologies and a desire to start creating again has brought the Southside natives back together with new music.

“Day Drinkin” from their latest EP even made our August “In Rotation,” and all we can say is we’re happy to hear them once more.

They caught up with us to talk about their new music and their return to the spotlight.

How would you describe The Startin’ LineUp to someone new?

First and foremost, I want to let people know who The Startin’ LineUp is: Marcus Gray, Steven ‘Cy Fice’ Bryant, Quentin ‘DNQ’ Abraham and Donald ‘DJ Party Starta’ Parker. The best way to describe us is a group of four individuals who have very unique personalities that perfectly blend together over our love for Hip Hop. Cy Fice brings to the table his clever lyrics with a huge focus on ear catching punchlines. Marcus brings a producer’s ear with high knowledge of different flows, and melodies that capture your attention. DNQ puts life into all of the songs with his uncanny ability to create hooks that stay in your mind. DJ Party Starta pushes the group to create music that keeps the audience engaged while providing feedback during our shows on how to get the party started.

What musical influences would you consider most important for TSL?

Little Brother, Kanye West, Nas, Jay-Z, Joe Budden, The Foreign Exchange and A Tribe Called Quest

Your music is incredibly varied. Dynamic, even. How would you describe the sound of The Startin’ LineUp?

We’ve talked about this before and tried to develop a definite answer, but it was tough. We really do pride ourselves on being able to write to any beat with any concept. We would describe it as a Hip-Hop/R&B/Neo-Soul fusion.

I see that your name and project names all are basketball-inspired. Is that on purpose? Was that planned out from your inception?

It is definitely on purpose! Our very first album, which is not on streaming platforms yet is titled, “The Tip-Off”. From that point on, we decided that every album title should be basketball themed/inspired.

-You are deeply rooted in the Chicago hip hop scene. Are you all from Chicago, if so which neighborhoods? 

We are all from the Southside of Chicago and surrounding suburbs: 103rd and Eberhart, 79th and Stony, 87th & Hazelcrest.

You had been a little quiet for some time, but now you’re back with a fresh new drop Summer League Madness. What was the reason behind the hiatus? Are you excited to be back?

We all met in school at Iowa State in 2004, and after that chapter, we all went our separate ways because of life. With technology back in 2010, it was almost impossible to continue to work on music together. As solo artists, we released projects on the mixtape scene. Cy Fice released a project, “Emotions” via Bandcamp and has several singles on SoundCloud. Marcus also released a project, “About the Author” and has several tracks that are also on SoundCloud. It was important for us to grow as individuals so that our music as a group could grow along with us.

Technology is allowing us to truly be able to collaborate again and record music from our own homes. We’ve all grown a lot and during the hiatus, and felt it was the perfect time to get back to work! We are absolutely excited to be back creating and working on music together.

It’s an interesting time to be releasing a new project. With so many uncertainties around the world right now, it is bold to release new material. What were some difficulties or reservations that arose while recording and releasing a new album during a global pandemic? 

The writing/recording process wasn’t so difficult because we were able to record and send songs back and forth to collaborate virtually. We initially wanted to release new music earlier this year and throughout, but the world seemed to be turned upside down. With so much going on, it was tough to stay focused, but we pushed through and finished the project.

Summer League Madness, other than the name, brings our minds back to a summer many of us wish we could have had. Was the record made with summer in mind? 

We planned on recording a summer-themed album back in early 2019, but we just didn’t get around to it for various reasons. Most songs and concepts were already planned out and written back when the project was originally supposed to be recorded. ‘Level Up’ was actually done a few years ago, so we just had to re-record the songs and get them mixed and mastered.

Day Drinkin’,” featured in August’s “In Rotation,” is especially catchy and melodic. Tell us a little about the making of the song. What were the ideas going on in creating that track?

“Day Drinkin’” was originally written to a different beat, but we were shopping for new beats and found the one that you hear now on YouTube. It fit perfectly with the vibe of the song, so we had to keep it. Every lyric in “Day Drinkin’” is pulled from reality, what we talk about in the song is what we actually do when we’re out with each other and friends, so there’s no fluff. Straight from experience. The hook was actually written by Ryanne Abraham, also featured on that track, and her mellow voice brought it all together in the end. We just wanted to create something that was catchy, relatable, and easy to sing along to.

We’re excited to see you back on the scene and cannot wait to see what else is in store. What’s next for The Startin’ LineUp? Any upcoming projects we should keep an eye on? 

We promise not to take another 10-year hiatus and will be releasing new songs and projects this year! We appreciate you guys having us on your platform and hope you enjoy the music we continue to send your way!

The Startin’ LineUp also put together a playlist of songs that are especially meaningful and influential.

You can listen to them here:

You can follow The Startin’ LineUp on Twitter and Instagram

Interview edited for length and clarity by Luis Mejia Ahrens

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