Feel the Music 

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Folks with partial or total hearing loss often still listen to music, because they can feel the vibrations. Now, thanks to ASL translations by Matt Maxey and others at DEAFinitely Dope, they can enjoy hip-hop shows as well.

Chance the Rapper will pause during his anti-record-label anthem “No Problem” and let the audience finish his signature line: “Countin’ Benjis while we meetin’, make ’em shake my other hand.” At that precise moment, though, Maxey’s hands will be signing the phrases “counting money” and “meeting,” then miming a left-handed handshake followed by an emphatic middle finger. Maxey’s ASL interpretation is an explosive, code-switching mishmash of textbook American Sign Language, pantomime, and makeshift signs he’s cobbled together for slang words native to hip-hop (“molly,” for example, combines gestures for “pill” and “sex”); the way he signs is as worldly and wry and improvisational as he is.


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