A Hot Ghetto Mess of Hip-Hop, Art, and B-Boys: The 10-Year Journey of The Blunt Club
See also: Tempe's Wet Paint Artist Supply to Close in July
Aaron Wallace The current Blunt Club crew (from left): Pickster One, Element, Thriftshop, and Adam "Dumperfoo" Dumper.
If Adam Dumper is feeling a little melancholy right now, there's a good reason. This week has a bit of a "best of times/worst of times" vibe for the local hip-hop impresario and street artist, who's better known by his alter ego Dumperfoo.
Three days ago, his longtime employer Wet Paint announced its closure after 11 years of selling graf art supplies and functioning as an epicenter of urban and hip-hop culture in the Valley. Meanwhile, Dumper will be celebrating the triumphant 10-year anniversary of The Blunt Club starting tonight, which served as Phoenix's premiere hip-hop night for exactly a decade. Leaning against a rack of canvases inside Wet Paint, Dumper reflects on the event's longevity and how it contrasts with the impending closure of the art store.
"Yeah, it's pretty gnarly," Dumper says. "This place has been like my corporate headquarters. It's been intertwined with The Blunt Club and has been a big reason why the night has gone on as long as it has. This is where I took calls to book artists, I had stuff sent here and met artists here. It blows that it's getting shut down."
But after the doors at Wet Paint close, The Blunt Club will keep going strong. It's been the Valley's pimpest hip-hop joint and a showcase for rap artistry, turntable wizardry, and fly street culture that's survived financial peril and moving to four different venues.
You could fill a novel with a list of all the influential artists and acts who've performed at the event, illustrated by all the dope art that's been created over the years by Dumper and others.
In honor of the pair of 10-year celebrations that will take place over the next two nights, New Times recently interview Dumper and longtime Blunt Club DJs Pickster One and Mr. Hyder about the history of the event and all the crazy shit that's gone down over the last decade.
The old Priceless Inn in Tempe.
Back in the Day
Adam Dumper: Keith Nichols started Priceless Inn right before the Blunt Club started in '02, was on tour with Emerg [McVay] and Eminem, because Keith used to manage Bionic Jive and they were opening for Eminem. And they were talking about starting this club night with spoken word, because it was big at that time with Def Poetry Jam on TV. So Keith and Emerg came at me and were like, "Yo, we gotta do this trip-hop night with spoken word and live art called The Blunt Club." I was working at Wet Paint at the time, doing shows and promotions, and was like, "Cool." I booked all the DJs and acts and went with it and have been running with it ever since.
Mr. Hyder: I was one of the first resident DJs there, one of the original four with Dumper, Keith, and Emerg. Back then, we wanted it to have a lounge vibe, like something cool for people to come chill out at that wasn't necessarily a show. And it stayed in the form for a couple years before we turned up the heat on the music. Back in the day though, it had more of a creative vibe, like a lot of people would go there and write and draw. Me, Organic, and Rest in Peace Eskimo would hang out and play dominoes for a couple hours while DJs were spinning Portishead, Massive Attack, and like downtempo kind of grooves.
Pickster One: It was raw. I went to The Blunt Club for years before being part of it, but I remember it being all downtempo, jazzy, trip-hop with poetry. And then it slowly began shifting to hip-hop. They started booking live acts to go along with the poets, and the hip-hop began taking over. The DJs started out playing dancey breakbeats and the b-boys started performing and it evolved from there.