If you have yet to see how the deaf community can dig on a song by The White Stripes or Christina Aguilera, head on over to the Deaf Professional Arts Network’s site (D-PAN) and witness your perception of lyrics get three-dimensional. D-PAN has done four official videos so far, though the community at large has responded ten-fold in the interim, with epic signing silhouette recreations of Queen‘s “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Madonna State University ASL students to scaled down interpretations of Katy Perry‘s “Hot ‘n Cold,” spelling out that line about p.m.s.-ing like a bitch.
At the forefront of the organization is deaf pioneer Sean Forbes, who’s been making tuneage on his own since 2010, debuting on fellow Detroit native Eminem‘s first label, Bass Brothers, with the hip-hop bent single I’m Deaf. “Stevie Wonder never saw the keys and Helen Keller was capable of communicating/I can feel the bass/Can’t hear the treble clef/What do you expect?/When you’re so so deaf,” he rhymes over a plunky piano line that he wrote. He also plays the guitar and dabbles in production work.
Telling NPR early on in his career that “rapping is just something I do, because you don’t wanna hear me sing,” the 30-year-old artist is readying his debut album dubbed Perfect Imperfection, and just released its first cut “Def Deaf Girls” yesterday. Which is all at once hilarious and genius, before you even see the flame homage to the Beastie Boys panache sign-video Forbes and D-PAN put together. “They can’t hear the rain on the roof,” Forbes drawls about a walking bass and some tactile “Next Episode” key twinkles, appearing in chain and bling regalia to info-graphic however, they sure as hell “know the difference between a beer, wine and 100 proof.” You’ll never look at deaf girls the same way again.