ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Marc Starr first caught the public’s eye in high school as a standout football and basketball player for Wilson Magnet High School.

While he went to college for sports, he left with music on his mind.

Starr is now using his songs to relay his personal story that has been marked by loss and bouts of depression — and people are listening.

He’s now booking gigs out of state in places like Atlanta.

Here’s Marc Starr’s interview with Adam Chodak:

Adam Chodak: Going into college sports was a huge part of your life. How did you transition over to music like you did?

Marc Starr: The transition into music happened more after my cousin was killed. I kind of got into a bad depression and a bad state of mind where my mind was just rolling and rolling and rolling and I just felt like I didn’t have anyone to go to so I just started writing down how I felt and I started putting it into music and music form and that kind of helped me with getting it out, but that was my therapy. I did this song this out in Chicago and basically when we did that song, he had a gig lined up and I get to this place, he must have showed these people the music, so they knew my lyrics and I get there performing and it’s like people saying lyrics to me and that was just like, yeah, this is a different feeling. And I was like this is what I need to be doing right here because I’m touching people without even knowing these people, complete strangers and that’s what I felt like this is personal, this is different than basketball, this is different than any sport than any sport I’ve ever played, this is personal, that’s when I made the transition. My senior year in college I had an unfortunate situation that led back to Rochester and I decided I need to sit down and concentrate on the music and that’s what I did.

AC: The message of your music does reach people, why do you think that is?

MS: Because it’s real. It’s about what most kids and adults in the inner city is going through. It’s pain, it’s a lot of struggle and we can basically relate to a lot of the same things – fatherless households, mother working multiple jobs to take care of multiple kids, I grew up in an environment where we’re losing family, we’re losing friends and that’s the reality that we live in so it’s been tough. So the pain side of it, everybody can relate to, even if you’re not from the inner city or from the area you’ve dealt with a situation where you have lost someone that you cared about so it’s relatable when it’s real.

AC: But you also use the word inspirational when it comes to your music, why is that?

MS: Because I come from a place where you don’t make it out and to be able to make it out and talk about it and know that there’s way more to life than what we see every day so being able to tell my story and how I got out of different depression modes, you have to show that side as well, like how you got there. I can’t be a millionaire tomorrow and not be able to tell the people how I became a millionaire so that’s how I feel with the music, I can’t really tell the story without giving the full story and how it happened so that’s where the inspirational side comes from and say that’s how I did it on my own, I know you can do it as well if I can.

AC: What is the rap scene like in Rochester?

MS: It’s big. It always has been big, but I don’t think we’ve had that one person to turn it mainstream yet to be able to clear the way for everybody else and show the world what Rochester has. This is the place where it’s kind of hard to make it out of. We don’t have clubs that’s doing hip hop shows. They’re scared to do hip hop because of the violence so so we don’t really have platforms to get our music out. With social media that’s all we kind of have, but the formulas are different with social media, it’s hit or miss, you either go viral or you don’t, you pay for marketing, you do what you have to do, but it’s hard to get it out to the world so it’s kind of tough, but there are so many dope artists here in Rochester, so many dope artists that we have here and I know that for sure, we just grew up on a lot of them and watching them, we just haven’t had that big shot yet and I feel like I can be the one.

AC: The last year has been very difficult for a lot of people. At the same time, but for you it’s provide a little bit of an opportunity…

MS: Just having the time to dedicate to the music I never really had before. I used to work ADT a couple years ago and that’s when I first started writing heavy heavy and putting it out there. I used to be on the phone, taking phone calls and when I’m on hold I’m writing a rhyme I just thought of, I’m trying to finish a song so I never really had the time to just sit down and do it because I have kids too and putting them through the ropes, school, sports and just being a father and it’s not enough time in the day so the COVID situation just sat me down and made me think, all right, we have to do something different, and now I have the time to sit down and plan it out. And me taking a different risk like if it’s a show out in Atlanta that I need to get to I’m going to get there because I feel it’s a platform and it’s maybe 1,000 people who didn’t know who I was, but after I get off that stage they’re going to know who I am so I took a lot of risk and it’s paying off, like, I’m not scared to fail, I’m not scared to take a risk and I don’t know what’s going to come out of it, but I’m going to take it.

AC: What else did I miss? What else do you want to talk about?

MS: I just want to shine light to the City of Rochester, man. It’s so hard being an artist and not having the labels here, not having the actual help that we need, the guidance, the education here in Rochester itself so it’s kind of hard following a blueprint that’s not there, you know what I mean? I guess I’m here just to make my own blueprint and to build something for the next generation, so that’s me.

AC: I actually did think of one last question, how do you approach a song? Does it come to you? Or do you think, I’m going to sit down and be creative? Or is it a little bit of both?

MS: It’s a little bit of both. Sometimes I’m in the process of creating the actual instrumental of a song, me and either the engineer or producer together and we’re just starting the beat from scratch and I might get a feel, like it makes me feel like this and I just start thinking, how does the beat make me feel? And it’s just, that’s the writing process for me and I’ll stick to that topic. I’ve been through a variety of things where I can talk about anything so however I feel in that moment, I’m going to lock in, I’m going to lock in and tell my story.