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Ask a Rapper: Nosaprise on Building a Hip-Hop Brand

The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place -lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good- so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to introducinglis[email protected].

Nosaprise, who has established himself as a perennial threat to win the HPMAs' Best Underground Hip-Hop category, frontlines the annual Trills The Season toy drive for the kiddos. The concert portion will be 9 p.m. Sunday at Boondocks with H.I.S.D., Lower Life Form and DJs Dayta and Squincy Jones. Bring a toy worth at least $7 to get in. Bring a toy worth at least $10 if you happen to not be a cheapskate.

This Week's Rapper: Nosaprise

This Week's Subject(s): Building a rapper brand

Ask A Rapper: Out of all of the underground Houston rappers, we think yours is one of the most distinguishable voices. Now, we figure that the structure of your voice has developed organically, but the function of it is has been honed. Is that something that you've consciously tried to do - make your voice a little more nasally than it might be naturally - as a means to help you stand?

Nosaprise: Nah, I come from a long line of high-toned rappers. Big L, Ghostface, Pimp C; some of my favorites got that tone. My voice has always been different, but it's uniquely me. You gotta embrace that shit. Too many rappers nowadays sound the same.

AAR: How important is it to have that quality, that trademark voice? We can't think of one rapper of consequence who sounds like anyone else. Like Weezy, for example. It's like, as soon as he croaks out two or three words you already know who he is.

Nosaprise feat. Kam, "Hot Night"

Nosaprise feat. Kam, "Hot Night"

N: Yeah, before a rapper has punch lines and his flow down he has to master his voice; it's the most important thing to a rapper. If you have an instantly recognizable voice, that's half the battle fought.

AAR: Is it easier to build a career around a really unique voice but no lyrical sense, or around a really mundane voice but phenomenal writing talents? We're inclined to go with the former. We mean, we don't think we ever actually heard Lil' Jon rap more than four bars, but he ran shit in the early '00s. Whereas Talib Kweli...

N: If you can write and your voice sucks, you can always be a ghostwriter. A lot of these major rappers are just voices anyways; they have people writing their rhymes for 'em. For the radio, your voice is everything. Lil' Jon made his career outta saying nothing, but he sounded tight.

Nosaprise, "Intervention"

Nosaprise, "Intervention"

Whereas a lot of these deep-thinking rappers forget your shit gotta sound good too. For me, you gotta have that balance of style and substance. Style will get people's attention, substance will keep people's attention.

AAR: Who has the easiest to identify voice in the Houston rap ecosystem? Why? We have a feeling you might want to say 'Face since we saw you hobnobbing it up with him at the HPMAs and you might think this is as good a time as any to score some points with him, so let's nullify him from the list of viable candidates.

N: Face's voice is definitely a Houston trademark, but I think it's Pimp and Bun hands down. You hear their voices on anything, you know it's them. Maybe 'cause it's so ingrained in us as Houstonians. Either way, R.I.P Pimp C.

Hear more Nosaprise music at and follow him on Twitter at @nosaprise.

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Shea Serrano