Nosaprise Opens His Book of the Dead Vol. 1

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You have to hand it to Nosaprise. although you can't help worrying a little, too. This month the Houston rapper/musician's grownup job as an arts teacher presented an opportunity for him to attend a lecture in Nigeria -- travel expenses paid -- and he stuck around to visit family and perform a little. Late Afrobeat patriarch Fela Kuti is a distant relative; it was Nosaprise's first time in Africa.

The trip, says the man born Nosa Edebor, was "very eye-opening."

Just off the plane, Nosa said he hadn't slept in about 26 hours when Rocks Off caught up with him via e-mail late Wednesday afternoon. We hope he has now, because tonight he will release his third and latest solo CD, Book of the Dead Vol. 1, at Fitzgerald's.

The disc is his first as Nosaprise since 2010's Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. The past year or two, Edebor has been directing most of his musical energies toward his Dinosaur Jr.-ish indie-rock group Screwtape, but he decided it was time to slip back into hip-hop mode.

Book of the Dead's songs both pay tribute to and mimic departed hip-hop personalities including Notorious B.I.G., Gang Starr's Guru, Lamont "Big L" Coleman, Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay and Ol' Dirty Bastard. Scattered throughout is dialogue from one of Nosa's favorite movies, Evil Dead 2 ("I loved how over-the-top those '80s horror movies were"), and some creepy laughter from a pivotal point in the film.

"it's basically the turning point of the film where the main character loses his mind," Edebor says. "I wanted an absence of lyrics there to let that creepiness set in and let listeners think and draw their own conclusions."

That's fairly heavy stuff. Is he all right?

"Well, I was thinking about this concept for a bit, and over the last year and a half I lost people and friends close to me lost people," says Nosa. "I had been looking at death a lot through my eyes and through their eyes, seeing how death effects the ones left behind, and I guess it was just a coping mechanism for me."

However, if there's a statement or theme solidifying the album, it's more transformation than simply death or the death of hip-hop culture, similar to the way Nosaprise reinterprets the music of the artists he's saluting.

Raised in Southwest Houston, Nosa is a sort of transitional figure in Houston hip-hop himself. Apart from his more rock-oriented endeavors -- he claims both the Geto Boys and DRI as childhood idols -- his quick-witted, fluid rhyming style has a definite similarity to A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip, counter to the slow-loud-and-bangin' attitudes that permeate much of H-Town rap.

Asked if he's out of step, Edebor counters with "I do my own thing."

"I think it's important to keep it pushing and challenge yourself and that is what I am always looking to do," he says. "That is the beauty of this city: there is less and less segregation between styles of music, and we've really become a diverse city musically."

"Now we have so many different styles of music, it's hard to peg what a Houston artist sounds like," Nosa adds. That's the way it should be."

Nosaprise plays Fitzgerald's tonight with B L A C K I E, P.L.X.T.X., Darwin's Finches and guest DJs Fat Tony and You(Genious). Doors open at 8 p.m.

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