Hip-Hop (Group): Meet the 2014 RFT Music Award Nominees
The 2014 Riverfront Times Music Showcase will be held this year on June 7 in the Grove! Think of it as St. Louis music's own official holiday and consider this the season. Throughout May we at RFT Music will be making our cases for all 140 bands and artists nominated for an RFT Music Award this year, so that you will be able to make a fully informed decision with regards to your vote. Read on and get yourself acquainted, and we'll see you at the showcase!
See also: Vote Now For the 2014 RFT Music Awards
Depending on your perspective, Barely Free Partial Prisoners isn't a traditional hip-hop group, per se. It takes its influence from beyond the genre's walls. These are rappers bred not on the sounds of punk, but definitely on the DIY approach it preaches, with audible nods to no-wave and noise music as well. Rhymes slip through Jake Cohen's teeth in tandem, piercing with precision. Jason LaChance makes use of a theremin and Korg software through a Nintendo DS to produce hard frames for each beat. The resulting rap speaks to conspiracy theorists and music nerds alike with cutting, clever lyricism.
Doorway's tale begins in Fairview Heights, Illinois, with members Nick Menn, L-Gifted, RT-FaQ and SD TheDizzleMan, who, after years of avid wordsmithing, decided to create an artist collective dedicated to hip-hop. Although each individual artist boasts a unique personality and sonic palette, they all share a devotion to sincerity and honesty, which can be seen in the messages and themes of their music. Doorway couples its members' humble attitudes with a brazen consciousness that provides the spark for its music; the group's lyricism and sound is a study in poignancy and ingenuity that easily covers all angles of rap. As a group, Doorway has created multiple solo and joint efforts and only continues to grow.
Hailing from St. Louis' north side, identical twins Mr. Rep and QB form the literally named Family Affair. The duo grew up surrounded by music -- mostly gospel and hip-hop -- citing Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, OutKast, Nas and 2Pac as some of its biggest influences. Mr. Rep and QB have created their own special blend of hip-hop, melding the sounds of the '90s with truthful poetics. Family Affair's music caters to pop and rap audiences alike, using its members' knack for storytelling to represent the city of St. Louis. The duo's ability to fit on a bill with a wide range of musicians -- from the Isley Brothers to Big K.R.I.T. to Juelz Santana -- also speaks to its unique flavor.
In the four years since live hip-hop band Illphonics has been releasing music, the members have figured out how to be a vibrant, funky unit while providing a platform for Larry "Fallout" Morris' verses and rhymes. The group's 2013 self-titled release jumps from bright R&B to bouncy funk to Stevie Wonder-fied soul to Quiet Storm balladry. Kevin Koehler's increasingly versatile guitar work -- alongside Keith Moore's mood-setting keys -- is responsible for these dynamic shifts, while Fallout's lyricism works no matter the setting. Illphonics further proved its instrumental prowess by stripping back to an acoustic unit for a handful of recent shows.
Some rappers lionize outlaw legends like Scarface; some rappers style themselves as street-smart CEOs. For his latest LP, Mathias took to the high seas and, with his aptly named crew the Pirates, set himself up as a verbal swashbuckler. Last year's Life of the Buzzard hit hard with old-school beats, but it was smoothed out with the help of vocalist Ms. Vizion, who serves as an oft-calming foil to Mathias' more fiery verses. Songs like "Sea Shanty in D-Minor" and "The Ballad of Old Long Ben" underline the high-seas/high-adventure motif, but Mathias isn't interested in putting on costumes or playing dress-up -- it's simply a new way to present the message he has been preaching for well over a decade.