Blunt Club Celebrates 12 Years of Hip-Hop Community

Beetlejuice gets down at the Blunt Club last Halloween.
Beetlejuice gets down at the Blunt Club last Halloween.
Jeff Moses

In the 12 years the Blunt Club has been around it has built a reputation as the Valley's premier weekly hip-hop show. Its founders, Dumper Foo, Aran "Catalyst" Kelly Emerge McVay, and Keith Nickels (among others) are local legends in their own right. And some of the acts they've managed to bring to Phoenix -- such as Public Enemy at Hollywood Alley, a secret Z-Trip show at Yucca Tap Room, and Afrika Bambaata and Digable Planets at Club Red -- are legends in everybody else's right as well.

"Loyalty" is the word that Blunt Club host Mouse Powell used to describe how the weekly underground hip-hop show has been able to maintain prominence for more than a decade.

"We are super loyal to the people we bring through, and they are super loyal to us," says Powell.

But more than loyalty to the performers and artists, people who participate in the Blunt Club are loyal to their fans. Every Thursday for the past 12 years, save for one, there has been a Blunt Club show. Which means for 623 weeks there has been a place for hip-hop fans to go and feel at home.

The Blunt Club is celebrating its 12th anniversary in style on May 22. Featured performers include Chris Karns, the 2011 DMC World Champion and three time Red Bull Thre3style winner; Broadway Slim; Pickster, Tricky T; and Organic. The show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10.

"It's a really unique night because everybody seems to know each other and get along. It kind of has a house party vibe to it," Powell says.

Anyone who has ever attended a the Blunt Club can attest to Powell's words. There really does seem to be an overarching sense of community within the confines of Tempe's Yucca Tap Room every Thursday.

Blunt Club co founder and resident live artist Dumper Foo is so committed to the weekly night that he has spent his last 12 Thanksgivings at the show.

"No holidays off, we do Christmas, we would do Easter if we could," says Foo.

The crew is even prepared for instances when all three organizers Powell, Foo, and resident DJ Pickster One, are all out of town. Powell described one night when he was in Texas for a show while Foo was touring California, and Pickster was in Washington. The other residents, including Organic and Very G, and even some Blunt Club fans, stepped up to make sure the night went off without a hitch.  

But according to Foo and Powell that's just sort of how the Blunt Club is. Dumper has been involved with the hip-hop night since its beginnings as a trip hop and spoken word night and has seen many acts, hosts, artist, and the like come and go. Including Powell whose relationship with the Blunt Club started at just fandom.

"I grew up adoring the Blunt Club. I always saw it on flyers and Myspace, and there was always something really dope happening that I was to young to be involved in," says Powell.

His adoration led him to performance, and that performance turned Powell into a diehard fan. From there, Powell became the host, taking over for Ruben Martinez, who would later become Powell's DJ.

The weekly show has gone through more than just hosts and performers. The show has also been through five different venues, including the Priceless Inn, Rio Salado Brewery, Hollywood Alley, Club Red, and then finally its current location for four years, the Yucca Tap Room.

"When people come through Phoenix they treat the Blunt Club like a staple. When they come through they try to line their shows up to be here on a Thursday instead of a Saturday to come play with us," says Powell. With Foo adding "It feels pretty crazy. I can't believe I've been doing it this long, but it stills feels as good as when we started. We are still doing well, we still got people who have been going since the beginning."

The Blunt Club is scheduled to celebrate its 12 anniversary at the Yucca Tap Room on Thursday, May 22.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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