The 2004 RFT Music Awards

Democracy is a wonderful thing. It gives us freedom; it carries responsibility. It turns citizens into Citizens. The Citizens of St. Louis who voted for these winners of the RFT Music Awards 2004 made their choices for a variety of reasons: They voted for their favorite band, or a song that stuck, or the band whose name struck a chord. Their reasons are their own, but their choices become our choices. That's democracy in action, people. Below you'll find the rappers, singers, DJs and other musicians who made the cut.

Artist/Album of the Year Chingy, Jackpot

Top: Chingy  Bottom: The Sex Robots: (left to right) Tracey John 
Morrissey, Mario Viele and Maysam Attaran
Jennifer Silverberg
Top: Chingy
Bottom: The Sex Robots: (left to right) Tracey John Morrissey, Mario Viele and Maysam Attaran
Top: Steve-O  Bottom: Soulard Blues Band: (left to right) John Wolf, 
Bob Kamoske, Kirk Grice, John Mondin and Art Dwyer
Jennifer Silverberg
Top: Steve-O
Bottom: Soulard Blues Band: (left to right) John Wolf, Bob Kamoske, Kirk Grice, John Mondin and Art Dwyer

When trying to describe very large numbers, such as the number of copies of Chingy's Jackpot that have been sold over the past twelve months or so, it's tempting to reach for a visual illustration, such as: If you took every Chingy CD and stacked them all on top of each other, the pile would equal the height of all of the Lakers laid end-to-end (and we wouldn't be surprised). Or, say, the weight of all the copies of Jackpot sold in the United States is equal to the heft of all the liposuctioned fat discarded over the past six years.

Maybe those statistics are true (okay, they aren't), but there's a much easier way to describe the number of Jackpot units shifted: double platinum. That's two million copies of Chingy's debut floating around America, securing the slurring "thurr" as the new "shizznit," shaking eardrums with the Trak Starz' beats and letting the world know there's a hotel party over on Natural Bridge Road.

While Nelly may still be the reigning superstar of the scene (witness his victory over Ching-a-ling in the hip-hop category, which just confirms that giants walk the Lou as far as hip-hop goes), this was Chingy's year. He went from crashing on couches to sleeping on gigantic piles of cash (we imagine) and rolling with Ludacris and Snoop Dogg (and even a tarted-up Rudy Huxtable). The 24-year-old MC has gone from rags to riches, and in doing so has established St. Louis as a popular hip-hop source with few peers. Atlanta may be home to crunk, and New York still has its hits (although if Jay-Z stays retired, the Big Apple may crap out), but by existing outside the dominant St. Lunatics crew and still thriving, Chingy staves off the curse of one-posse-wonder towns such as Cleveland (sorry, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony). He also kept the door open for J-Kwon and whoever it is who's getting ready to pop up next.

And he did it with a playful flow and an ear for choruses that grow in the brain like extremely benign tumors. "Right Thurr," "Holidae In" and (to a lesser extent) "One Call Away" are party hits that keep on giving, and while it's anyone's guess what Chingy will do next year, this year he can stand tall. -- Jordan Harper

Best New Band The Sex Robots

There are many different names for people who, shall we say, frequently spread their love around. Whore, hooker and bride of the regiment are just a few names for this kind of folk, but usually these monikers apply to those who have sex for money. Whether they turn tricks is unknown, but the Sex Robots certainly do get around. St. Louis' very own musical hos, Robots Mario Viele and Maysam Attaran have their fingers in so many different projects -- including Best Punk nominee the Pubes -- that talk around the office is to just divide the ballot next year into bands Viele and Attaran are involved in and bands they're not. In addition to the approximately 4,372 bands these two play in, they also somehow find the time to run Roadhouse Tunes, a studio/collective designed to meet the needs of themselves and their friends.

A three-piece with Viele on guitar, Attaran on drums and Tracey John Morrissey on bass, the Sex Robots make a sweet sound somewhere in the nexus between the Ramones, the Descendants and '90s power-pop bands like Material Issue. Straightforward and simple without being stupid, the Robots' tunes bounce along, informed by Viele's jazz-trained guitar and Morrissey's liquid bass lines, all held together by Attaran's rhythmic pounding. The Robots' live shows are a bit less chaotic and energetic than some of their other bands' shows -- but the songs are mellower too, so it wouldn't make a lot of sense to have band members running around like madmen, as does Pubes frontman Peat Henry.

So our 2004 Best New Band is the Sex Robots, and whether or not they truly have any sybian ambition is up for debate, but they do play some good, catchy tunes. The only downside for them is that this'll be the only time they're eligible for the award. Next year they'll face stiffer competition in whatever category they end up in, vying against some bands firmly entrenched in long winning streaks. That is, of course, unless the guys in the Robots decide just to start yet another new band. -- Erik Alan Carlson

Best Blues Soulard Blues Band

Can we go ahead now and officially declare the Soulard Blues Band to be a St. Louis institution? While the career lifespan of pop stars and hot dance clubs is often measured in months, come October the SBB will celebrate 26 years of making music. And if ten consecutive Best Blues wins in the RFT Music Awards are any indication, the band's popularity has only grown over that time. Moreover, those awards have come in a category typically including such beloved local legends as Johnnie Johnson, Bennie Smith and Henry Townsend.

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