I’ve spent time waxing nostalgic on this site about the Bombshelter DJs, the three-man collective (Z-Trip, Radar and Emile) that I was fortunate enough to see perform regularly in the Tempe/Phoenix area during the mid to late ’90s. They are, without a doubt, some of my fondest live music memories. Those guys were open-minded and forward-thinking, proving you didn’t have to be one one coast or the other to start – and sustain – a movement.
But the weekly gigs and one-off shows weren’t just about turntablism. There were b-boys (props to the Furious Styles Crew) and live art (usually courtesy of Jim Mahfood), but the glue to it all was Mr. Puma, the unflappable emcee with a kind smile and killer verse.
Big-name guests came and went at the various Bombshelter nights, but for me, just a college kid and aspiring newspaper reporter/writer who devoured all things hip-hop, guys like Puma made a huge impression – not only on me, but on the scene he represents.
Without sounding overly dramatic about it, it’s time for the scene to pick up one of its own. I’ve been able to reconnect with Puma via Facebook, where he’s opened up his fight with cancer. Phoenix’s Djentrification is dedicating his 602’sdays night at Bikini Lounge to help raise money to defray Puma’s medical costs. I messaged Puma, asking him if he’d mind if I posted about what he’s going through, and he was (as expected) in good spirits and very forthright about his condition. With his permission, here’s what he said: “I found out that I had a retroperitoneal seminoma tumor, the size of a softball, surrounding my aorta, renal and messanteric arteries, about 9 weeks ago. I have been in chemotherapy for six weeks, have another six to go.”
Puma’s been working on a new two-man project called The Gentlemen Ether, which, from the small bit I’ve heard, pushes far beyond the constraints of traditional hip-hop (but that doesn’t surprise me because he’s always shown an eclectic ear for music). Check out the Gentlemen Ether’s “Whoompsh” below, and do what you can to show up to the Bikini Lounge on Tuesday or at least help spread the word.