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It's less than an hour before last call at a recent session of The Blunt Club in Tempe, and resident DJ Pickster One is cuing up the Beastie Boys' "Get It Together." Girls in booty shorts shake it on the checkered tiled floor and PBR-toting patrons bellow to be heard over the bass and voice of dearly departed Beastie Adam Yauch, booming out of the Yucca Tap Room's speakers.
Leaning against the dive's shuffleboard game, to the left of the stage, Adam "Dumperfoo" Dumper — one of the quietest cats in the place — wordlessly oversees the scene with a commanding gaze. When the artist and longtime Blunt Club promoter does speak, it's typically to exchange a quick "What's up?" or "Howzitgoing?" to those walking past. He languidly sips from a tall boy — a vice he indulges only at the end of the night.
"I usually don't get my drink on until the last hour, after everything's going good," he says. "I don't want to be wasted while I'm making sure shit's going on. A lot of times you gotta hold people's hands."
29 W. Southern Ave.
Tempe, AZ 85282
Category: Bars and Clubs
Dumper's voice is hoarse from a recent cold, which he's been trying to kick since the first of the year. He pins the nagging illness on a nasty rhinovirus he picked up from a Blunt Club cohort ("We were all sharing a bottle on New Year's Eve") — but clearly, Dumper's exhausting schedule has to take some of the blame.
He's kept his paint-splattered fingers dipped in the local hip-hop mix for most of the past 15 years. Besides shepherding the Blunt Club through a half-dozen different venues since 2002, Dumper's also been involved with landmark urban art collectives (Alpha Monsters, Blow-Up Co-op), helped promote influential club nights (Flavor Shop, Kill Mill), adorned canvases at a slew of hip-hop events, and collaborated with fellow members of interconnected backpack-rap ensembles The Insects and Drunken Immortals on a soon-to-be-released album and music video.
His role in stylizing the visual element of Phoenix hip-hop has earned him the love of his peers. On Thursday, January 17, The Blunt Club will celebrate his legacy, and on Friday, January 18, his pals are throwing a massive 40th birthday party, featuring the reunion of Drunken Immortals, the dancers of Furious Styles Crew, DJs Organic, Daddy Rich, Mr. Hyder, and host Emerg McVay. The latter gathering, thrown at Tempe hip-hop haven Club Red, speaks to Dumper's standing among the MCs and DJs of Phoenix.
A former b-boy wunderkind in his adolescence, Dumper's breakdancing days are long behind him (as he's neither popped nor locked since 1995), he tells New Times.
He also drops dime that his skills as both turntablist and rapper aren't that fly, either.
"I can't rap at all — horrible rapper," he says with a laugh while sitting around a table at Casey Moore's in Tempe a few hours before the Thursday night Blunt Club session. He's joined by Jonas "Foundation" Hurst and Michael "Mic Cause" Cosentino, two members of Drunken Immortals.
He's far better at the remaining element of hip-hop culture: art.
While his collaborators rap, Dumper works a canvas onstage, creating art in real time, adding an expressive visual element to the music. Both Hurst and Cosentino consider Dumper's live paintings, which he quickly creates during the course of a 45-minute set, to be as vital an element to Drunken Immortals as the beats and rhymes.
"When we're onstage, it's hard to see it, but it kinda all goes together so well, like, rhythmically with how he paints and all. It fits with our music so well," Hurst says. "When he started playing with us years ago, I was like, 'You can finish it during the end of this motherfucker? From a blank fucking canvas?' Our set's like 45 minutes, and he finishes them every time."
He's even a part of practice sessions, Cosentino says, where Dumper sketches out what he's painting at an upcoming gig.
"He sits around drawing while we're fucking around, writing shit on the board, yelling shit, getting into fights or whatever, and he [sits] there in the corner and snickers while planning it out," Cosentino says.
Dumper's ascent to unofficial art director of the Valley hip-hop scene stretches back to the '90s, and strangely enough, it was a move to San Diego in 1999 that defined his future role in Phoenix.
"I had an office, making phat money. I was killing it, but I worked in Costa Mesa and I lived in San Diego," he says. "After 9/11, I couldn't take the train. There was no way to get up north. And when the planes are crashing into the buildings, I was like, 'I'm just gonna move back to Arizona.'"
Everything was looking up, especially since fellow artist Jessica Jordan had phoned him about opening her new art supply store, Wet Paint. Not to mention Keith Nichols, proprietor of the old Priceless Inn in Tempe, was cajoling him into launching a new poetry/hip-hop night called The Blunt Club. The bar owner hoped to evoke the artsy urban vibe of Move '98, a similar event Dumper had put on at Nichols' other joint, Boston's.