5 P.M. Barely Free Partial Prisoners

Nominated for: Best Hip-Hop (Group)

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. — Joseph Hess

6 P.M. CaveofswordS

Nominated for: Best Pop

If successful marriages are built around love, respect and a division of labor, Sunyatta and Kevin McDermott's union bears fruit every time CaveofswordS takes the stage. She sings with entrancing verve and laser-direct clarity; he creates atmosphere with a mix of trippy samples and visceral musicianship. Since the release of its debut Silverwalks (and its remix companion Skillwavers), the band has grown to include a living, breathing rhythm section that has added both industrial and jazzlike colors to the palette. That only makes CaveofswordS harder to pin down, genre-wise — we can think of at least five other suitable categories in this local-music horse race — and that's what makes us hungry for the band's forthcoming release, due out later this year. — Christian Schaeffer

7 P.M. Nato Caliph

Nominated for: Best Hip-Hop (Solo)

Nato Caliph is a St. Louis rap OG who got his start after hearing the Eric B. & Rakim song "Microphone Fiend" when he was just seven years old. He's been rapping ever since, with an arresting cadence that propels intelligent conversation — his rhymes focus on family, work and his community, rather than turning up in the club. Most recently his song "The Id," from 2013's Understanding Understood, was featured on The Source's website. Caliph also occasionally teams up with fellow nominee Black Spade — the duo released its first joint effort in 2012, Force Majeure, which features beats by Spade and raps by both emcees.

— Tara Mahadevan

8 P.M. Mvstermind

Nominated for: Best Hip-Hop (Solo)

Mvstermind is a growing young talent — a producer, rapper and frontman for St. Louis rapping and singing collective M.M.E. His most recent album A.D.D. (Artistically Day Dreaming) is just a taste of his clever wordplay, with the album's title referencing Mvstermind's childhood diagnosis of attention deficit disorder. His musical influence began at home with his father and later grew with inspiration from musicians like John Coltrane, Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West. Mvstermind sees his version of hip-hop as a mosaic of sounds that come together to create a diverse aesthetic. — Tara Mahadevan

9 P.M. Illphonics

Nominated for: Best Hip-Hop (Group)

In the four years 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.

— Christian Schaeffer

10 P.M. Brothers Lazaroff

Nominated for: Best Americana

Brothers Lazaroff masters a strain of American folk music that can't be faked, with a subconscious presence of blues and an unforced twang. The comparison between Brothers Lazaroff and Summerteeth-era Wilco is an obvious but effective one, although these not-actually-related Brothers seem uninterested in high-art experimentation. Last year's excellent full-length record Hope, Fear, Youth displayed a band that infuses an often formulaic music with jangle-funk jams and Springsteenian moments that easily reach further than the standard alt-country crowd.

— Ryan Wasoba

11 P.M. Tef Poe

Nominated for: Best Hip-Hop (Solo)

Of all the aspects of Tef Poe to discuss — his outspoken nature, his constant hustle, his thought-provoking social-media rants — let us not forget that he can rhyme his ass off. You don't get onto BET's Freestyle Friday competition on swagger alone, and you certainly don't return as defending champion for weeks on end without a sharp tongue and quick wit. And Poe's wordplay keeps improving on his newest release, Cheer For the Villain, another installment of sinister verses and steamrolling beats. A track like "Drinking and Thinking" shows zero compromises and still hits hard enough to fit on hip-hop radio. Tef Poe may or may not be the next big St. Louis rapper, but if he is, it will certainly be on his own terms. — Ryan Wasoba

MIDNIGHT Family Affair

Nominated for: Best Hip-Hop (Group)

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. — Tara Mahadevan

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