By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"Order me a vodka-tonic, Kreme," the J-girl tells me. "I'll be in the ladies' room powdering my nose."
"What, you don't share any of that Bolivian NutraSweet with your boss no more?" I cry as her derrière begins to wiggle away from me.
"Oh, Kreme," she tuts, not admitting anything. "A real playa wouldn't have to be beggin' like that."
Hey, I ain't too proud to grovel, pray or hijack a plane, if need be. By any means necessary, like Malcolm X said, though I don't think he had trim or yayo in mind, like I do. It takes a few minutes to cadge these libations, and by the time I nab mine, I've seen several familiar mugs: DJ Al Page of Hidden House fame and his gal, the booful Robyn Sheppard; paint king Baron Gordon of the Alpha Monster crew; poet and graphic-stylist extraordinaire Jules Demetrius of the M1NUTM3N art collective; delicious b-girl Diva, whose upper badonkadonk could make the lame walk through the pure joy of observing it; the hella-fine Gizmo, she of the creamy cocoa-brown complexion, who counts the Kremester amongst her many male admirers; and bright-eyed Tara, a bartenderess from the Brickhouse Theater who looks like the chill girl-next-door you wish would be next door to you.
I'm wandering around with a drink in each fist, looking for my stool-hoggin' sidekick to emerge from the bog, when I see that Dumperfoo has stepped offstage, after having completed his live art for the eve. He motions me over to the VIP area, and I hand Jett's drink to the first hot chicalita I see. Reckon that bizz-atch will have to fend for herself, this eve.
Big Dumps removes the earplugs he wears to keep the speakers from crackin' a hole in his eardrum, and we scoot over into a corner with his boy DJ Hyder, so we can talk.
"Dang, Dumper, four years of anything, whether marriage or a pet hamster, is an accomplishment. How have you guys done it?" I inquire.
"It's the people who come here, and the people who are involved in it, really," says Dr. Dumpenstein.
"We never saw this day coming," admits turntablist Hyder. "Four years later, and people are still lovin' it the way they do, we're blessed. We also try to bring in big acts regularly, and keep it hot from week to week."
"Dumper, you're kind of the daddy-mack of the live art thing in the Zona," I comment. "Now it seems like every hip-hop night does that."
"Live music really inspires me," explains the Master of Dumpology. "I have trouble painting at home. And some people won't buy the art that I paint at home. They like it better when I paint onstage. We also have other artists come in here, and they vibe to the music. So it's not like you're just staring at a DJ all night. You have some visuals to work with while you're painting."
The Crown City Rockers are readying to leap up there and get at it in support of their latest and livest album to date, earthtones. Anyone who hasn't caught their high-energy act should examine their Web site, www.crowncityrockers.com, and especially the video for their track "B-boy." That could practically be the Blunt Club's anthem, with its refrain, "I love -- bein' a b-boy!" Needless to say, everyone is humming that tune by the time CCR's set is done.
After conversatin' with Professor Hyder and Señor Dumps, I chat with CCR's charismatic MC Raashan Ahmad, the leader of that multicultural quintet, whose members can -- check this -- actually play some motherfunkin' instruments! As opposed to some others these days who've never gotten beyond using prerecorded tracks.
"We definitely come from that side of like the more organic kind of hip-hop, like Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, De La Soul," he says. "We follow that aesthetic. But we also love everything from Jay-Z and N.W.A to MF Doom and Living Legends, all that stuff. That's hip-hop, and we love playin' it."
Out of the corner of my eye, I spy the Jettster trying to get past a bulky bouncer, to no avail, and hear her shout, "Kreme, where's my drink, you fat-ass fool?!" I shrug and smile as she enjoys the fruits of sobriety, then I turn back to Ahmad, and ask him how he feels about the Blunt Club.
"It's beautiful," he states. "I know Dumper and these guys have been reppin' Arizona real hard. We meet those cats in other places, and they're always like, 'Come out to Arizona.' So to be here and see this kind of community, it's inspiring. There are white folks here, black folks here. It crosses all sorts of boundaries, and everybody's partying. It's great."