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"Keith and his brother ran Boston's, and they came at me: 'Yo, we should do a night called The Blunt Club and you should have live art, painting, and DJs and shit like you did with Move '98," he says. "Because at that time, poetry was kicking it and shit with Def Poetry Jam and Saul Williams."
But the excitement of starting a new job and new night quickly was put on hold. Dumper inadvertently was caught up in the investigation of ecstasy dealer "English" Shaun Attwood's criminal empire, and he was arrested in a massive sting, along with more than 36 others, in 2002. (Attwood himself would do time in Towers Jail, the subject of his memoir, Hard Time: A Brit in America's Toughest Jail, before being deported back to England). A roommate had sought Dumper's help in scoring some drugs, and the artist unfortunately phoned a dealer connected with Attwood. The call was tapped and Dumper was nabbed.
"It was my own stupid fault. I was sober and clean and had just moved back and was all positive and was going to these dope shows and I had a new job," he says.
Initially charged with several narcotics felonies, Dumper eventually secured a plea deal after copping to the use of electronic communications in support of a drug transaction and was sent to the county jail for four months.
"And then everybody from [the local hip-hop scene] wrote me letters of recommendation to get out of jail," he says. "I just used that as [motivation] to try and do better with my life, get my fucking head out of my ass."
Released into Jordan's custody, Dumper's golden age began. He feverishly collaborated with the members of the scene, joined the Drunken Immortals in 2003, and helped make Wet Paint, its upstairs B-Side Gallery, and Blunt Club epicenters for local hip-hop.
"It was a good hub all the way around. Even on our off days, when we weren't doing shows, it was still a bunch of MCs or DJs or artist people in there hanging out. We had a record store upstairs, too," Dumper says.
Cosentino remembers the place well.
"Wet Paint galvanized it," Cosentino says. "The art, the music — it was all such a good place. We had beer and wine flowing, [and] the art was going. People that we don't know were showing up just to see what was happening. It sort of gave us more of an audience more than bars ever did. Because the bars were more interested in just loot, while that place was really interested in culture. People that I didn't know were coming and listening, they were buying records, they were down for it and started asking, 'Where are you guys playing next?'"
Graf artists weren't the only ones rolling, though, as everyone from rappers to rockers brought in their CDs to sell on consignment or drop off fliers at the Tempe store, which originally was located on Forest Avenue before moving to Ash Avenue and closing around Thanksgiving 2012.
Wet Paint helped foster a community, and Hurst says bringing Dumperfoo into the Drunken Immortals crew — plus its numerous side projects, including The Insects, Crusher Sound System, and Discombobulator — was a no-brainer.
"We never even thought about it," he says. "It just seemed like it never even was a question. He seemed like family."
Even with Wet Paint's doors closed, Dumper stays busy. He estimates he does four to five live paintings a week at shows like Sail Inn's Tempe Art A Go-Go and punk gigs, in addition to graphic design work for CenPho strip club Cheetah's. ("That's always steady income," he quips. "They always need titty dancer fliers") or for clothing company Coolin' Out Entertainment.
"He never seems to slow down," Cosentino says. "He's prolific. It's like he's got a broken back from being hunched over."
"Yeah," Dumper agrees, not really joking when he describes his back maladies. "Like scoliosis."
Though he says in deadpan fashion, the artist actually suffers from a mild form of the spinal condition brought on from constantly hunching over canvases. And according to Hurst, Dumper is a victim of second malady.
"He also has another problem," the MC says. "He can't say no to gigs."
"It's more like he's got no-liosis," Cosentino quips.