Friendship Holds Hip-Hop Group Together



This is a three-headed Payson People.

The heads belong to Payson High School students Carlos Padilla, Ryan Avila and John Campbell -- three best buddies who are the founding "fathers" of a hip-hop group known as Money Ave. The reason we're combining them into one Payson People is that it's impossible to separate them.


Members of Money Ave: Carlos Padilla, Ryan Avila and John Campbell.

It all started on a school bus en route to, of all places, Eagar. All three are members of the PHS choir and were headed for a competition.

"We were discussing it one day on the school bus on a field trip, and made a friendship," Campbell, who does most of the talking, said. "We were talking about how we all have this common denominator -- rap music. How we like it and how that's what we'd like to do."

"We all had the same goals and dreams," Avila added.

Once back home, Padilla ordered a beat-making machine for his computer.

"He started bringing them to school saying, ‘Hey, check out what I did.' ‘Hey, I can rap to that man,'" Campbell said. "We said, ‘Let's do it,' and it just took off from there."

Two more members were added, Yani Krehbiel and Aaron Valdez, and the group started rehearsing -- mostly at Padilla's house, where mom, Annette Padilla, is their biggest supporter. In fact, all three of the boys call her mom.

"Mom's like the manager," Campbell said. "She kind of pushes us and gives us the support we need."

Annette Padilla thinks parents need to get involved and stay involved in their children's lives.

"I figure the biggest problem is parents not doing enough for their kids," she said. "They fall between the cracks. They end up doing drugs. They end up in gangs. They end up shot. I don't want to see my boys end up that way.

"They have a future, a positive future. Their music is great, and if I'm the only parent supporting them, so be it."

Their music is, in fact, an anomaly for the genre -- because it's positive.

"There's nothing out there like it," Campbell said. "(Most hip-hop and rap is, ‘I'm going to kill you -- cap, cap, cap.' We want the kids to love it, but we want the parents to love it too."

Avila elaborated.

"Since there is so much negativity in rap, we thought we'd bring something positive, something happy," he said.

The two songs they have already recorded are:

  • "Pass the Time"

"It's basically (about) how we spend our free time together," Campbell said. "How much we're friends."

  • "All That Remains"

"It's a love song and it has an R and B feel to it," Padilla said.

Another song, still in the early stages, deals with the war in Iraq.

"Me and Carlos are writing this song about the war and how it affects people's lives on a personal level, like on a family basis," Campbell said. "How you miss your family, miss your friends."

It's a song that hits close to home for Campbell. A senior who graduated Saturday, he has already enlisted in the U.S. Navy. But he has a deal with them that if Money Ave takes off, he can delay his active duty. The plan is to record enough songs to fill a CD, and then take it to radio stations in the Valley and elsewhere in attempt to get some air time.

The name Money Ave came to Campbell in a quirky sort of way.

"It was my sophomore year and I was (living) in the Valley," he said. "In my sixth hour class, we had to pick a metaphor for anything we wanted.

"I was really bored and I started doodling on a piece of paper. That's where I came up with Money Ave as a metaphor for Easy Street.

"You know, if you got money it's going to be easier than if you don't. My teacher liked it a lot.

"When I moved here and told Carlos he said, ‘That's bad. Let's do it.'"

Maybe the day will come when Money Ave will get to find out if it's easier with money. In the meantime, they've got their friendship to keep them going.

"That's what makes it work," Padilla said. "That's what makes it sound good."

And they've got Annette Padilla to push them and keep them from going hungry.

"As long as they're singing and playing, mom is cooking for them," she said.


Names: Carlos Padilla, Ryan Avila, John Campbell

Occupation: Hip-hop group

Employer: Students

Ages: 15, 16, 18

Birthplace: Carlos and John -- Arizona, Ryan -- California.

Family: Money Ave (their group).

Personal Motto: Keep it real.

Inspiration: Carlos: A second chance in life to do something. Ryan and John: Problems in our lives.

Greatest feat: Carlos: Overcoming major surgery. Ryan: Being the man of the house. John: Parents moving away.

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Rapping.

Three words that describe us best: Dedication, loyalty, friendship.

We don't want to brag but: We're the best rappers in Payson.

Person in history we'd most like to meet: Tupac Shakur.

Luxury defined: Being in the studio together.

Dream vacation spot: Figi.

Why Payson? We were put here.

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