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Payback Records paying it forward

For many retiring AFL players, figuring out what to do after footy can be difficult.

As some of Nathan Lovett-Murray’s retired Essendon teammates walked fairly well-worn paths into careers in coaching and media, the 31-year-old headed in a very different direction.

Music and football don’t often go together – Lovett-Murray confesses he hasn’t “got a musical bone in [his] body” – but the former Essendon utility has carved out at a niche with ‘Payback Records’, a record label that produces Indigenous hip-hop music with a vision of promoting Indigenous culture to the world.

Though Lovett-Murray says he “can’t sing, can’t dance” and knows “nothing about music”, music has always been in his blood. Two of his uncles, Archie Roach and Johnny Lovett, are famous musicians and were influential in developing Lovett-Murray’s strong passion for music. Over the years, that passion began to take a different shape.

“We started the record label in 2008 – I was playing at Essendon at the time and was doing this on my days off,” Lovett-Murray told this week.

Lovett-Murray realised there was an opportunity to put his profile to good use, for the benefit of the wider Indigenous community.

“I’ve had my artists support Akon, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony” – Lovett-Murray

“Payback Records was set up for young Indigenous people, to give them a voice through hip-hop music. If you listen to Indigenous hip-hop, it’s about family, it’s about culture, it’s about some of the issues that Indigenous people face growing up, which are different to non-Indigenous people in this country.”

‘Miss Hood’, who is set to release her debut album through Payback Records tomorrow, says Lovett-Murray has had an enormous influence on her career.

“Nathan’s helped a lot – he was there through the creative side through the last couple of years – he’s definitely been a big mentor.”

Payback Records began as a small record label, but was always inspired by big dreams.

“My vision has always been to promote Indigenous culture to the world,” Lovett-Murray explained. In many respects, that vision has already been realised.

“I’ve had my artists support Akon, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony – all these massive, international artists.

“We’ve met them all and the message that I’ve been given from them is, ‘You’ve got to come over to the States! You’ve got to come over to the States!’ That’s something that I’ve been working on and hopefully want to do this year, again in October, where I take my artists over there and do some Indigenous hip-hop showcases in New York and LA.”

What happens to Lovett-Murray and his artists next?

“I’m very optimistic,” Miss Hood says with a smile.

“I’ll look to the sky and hope for the best.”

Watch part two of Lovett-Murray’s story, where he talks about how Michael Long got him to Essendon and the bond that exists between the competition’s Indigenous players, here.

Watch Miss Hood performing on the Marngrook Footy Show below, and read more about Payback Records here