The Michael J. Payton Story

Angelina: Oakland native and San Francisco State alum Michael J. Payton is a rapper turned filmmaker and social entrepreneur. In 2018, Payton wrote, edited and narrated the unofficial Murder Inc. documentary and posted it on YouTube, where it slowly picked up speed before inevitably catching the attention of Murder Inc. Records CEO Irv Gotti. Impressed by his storytelling skills, Gotti handpicked Payton to direct the official documentary. Payton interviewed icons such as Jay Z, Nas, Ja Rule and Fat Joe to help tell the story of the record labels rise and fall from greatness. My name is Angelina Casolla and you’re listening to The Bleed.

Angelina: Dina Ibrahim, Executive Director of the CSU Entertainment Alliance, invited Payton to campus for a question and answer session in September. She believes his story will give hope to San Francisco State students.

Dina Ibrahim: I didn’t even know about Murder Inc. I knew all the songs yeah, but I didn’t know that there was this whole recording label behind the music. And honestly, if it wasn’t for Payton, I wouldn’t have even tuned in. I wouldn’t have even been aware that that story was out there. Also part of the story about Payton is his resilience. Because the part of the story that I find fascinating is that on his own dime and his own time, he went and created a YouTube documentary that actually caught the attention of Irv Gotti.

Angelina: Jeff Jacoby, KSFS radio faculty advisor, remembers Payton, his former student, as a hip-hop fan interested in politics and the world around him.

Jeff Jacoby: What we have here is a young man who took some time to take stock of himself, while he was in college, figured out what was important to him and grew into that man that he envisioned and continues to do that. Michael graduated, spent some years working, went to grad school, and then decided to make a serious attempt at fulfilling some of the dreams he’s been carrying around for a long time as a hip-hop performer and hip-hop radio host, and here he is doing that.

Michael J. Payton: No, I think you have to just keep your North star. That’s one thing that definitely found in my, you know, in my journey is that keeping that North star, there’s been times I’ve gotten off of my path. And, you know, folks who told you that you need to try this or do that. And I think at the end of the day, you have to just stick to what you really believe in and focus intently on what you want to do. Because again, there’s been a lot of ebbs and flows, when I first got out of college, it wasn’t necessarily, you know, folks wasn’t necessarily just throwing jobs my way and stuff like I had to go out there and make my own way. And, you know, there’s gonna be days when you doubt yourself, it’s gonna be days where you feel like, “Well, is this the right path? Should I have went down another way?” But, you have to just find that thing that anchors you and keeps you feeling like, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.” You know, me and my friends, we all had these ideas about what we wanted to do in the future or how we wanted to, and you kind of see as life comes at you that folks kind of start to peel away from that. They start to kind of become more like realistic and they become more, you know, more pragmatic. And they kind of lose that dreamer inside of them. So I would say, keep the dream alive, no matter what it is, like, yes, you’re going to probably hit some bumps in the road. Sometimes you’re gonna to, you know, things won’t always go your way, but keep that fire burning. That’s the reason why we came to the school and came to state in the first place. That passion that you found while you were here, at State, like keep that fire burning. Even when you’re finished here, like don’t ever lose that blissfulness and that joy that you get from chasing your dreams and pursuing what you want to do. If I can leave ya’ll with any message, it would be that.

Angelina:  This is Angelina Casolla and you have been listening to The Bleed, with music by DeVern from