Deaf Rapper Uses Sign Language to Rhyme
Rapper Sean Forbes isn’t going to let a little thing like being deaf stop him from having a music career. The rapper, whose credits include working with deaf actress and Oscar winner Marley Matlin, is intent on proving that even though he’s hearing impaired, he can still rhyme.
Forbes lost his hearing as a baby but in his song, ‘I’m Deaf,’ he doesn’t shy away from addressing the pink elephant in the room. “Deafer than Def Jam, so so def,” he raps, while using sign language. “My name is Sean but they call me seen/ Got a message here I’m delivering/ Look I understand that you might be leery/ Getting music beats from the hard of hearing/ Something inside me is so intense/ Evidently it’s bringing out my sixth sense.”
The aspiring MC is able to hear music through his hearing aids, which he straps on at the start of his ‘I’m Deaf’ video. Even with what some see as a handicap, pursuing a career in music was in his DNA. “My parents are both musicians,” he said in an interview. “So I grew up listening to rock and roll, the Beatles, the Stones, and later heavy metal like Motley Crüe and Poison.”
Forbes took interest in hip-hop as a teenager listening to the likes of N.W.A. But hip-hop music was more than good music, the way in which the songs were put together made it easier for him to understand the lyrics, which is usually hard for him to do. “I was able to really follow the beat and the drums,” he explained. “And the lyrics are easier for me to follow, too, because rapping almost sounds like a drummer.”
Aside from his music endeavors, Forbes runs the Deaf Professional Arts Network, an organization dedicated to promoting the professional development and access to music, visual arts and media arts to those who are deaf and hard of hearing.
‘I’m Deaf’ has already received over 300,000 views on YouTube and is available for download via iTunes.