11 Times Sign Language Interpreters Reigned Supreme in Hip-Hop
Since the 1980s, hip-hop has appealed to people all over the world, evoking emotions and providing a platform for those who can relate to millions—it's truly a genre for everyone. Even for those who have an inability to hear, they are still upfront and center at artists' shows, enjoying sets from your favorites just as much as the next person thanks to some passionate and zealous American Sign Language interpreters.
Thanks to stellar performances in years past by famed interpreters Holly Maniatty and Amber Galloway Gallego, rap performances have been taken up a notch for more fans to enjoy, whether live or in music videos. After spending hours upon days practicing their interpretation of the tracks, these women have taken the spotlight all over the country, working with everyone from JAY-Z to Kendrick Lamar, respectively. Who knew a sign interpretation of "I got my niggas in Queens, I got my bitches Uptown/I got my business in Manhattan, I ain't fuckin' around" would be just as enjoyable as Snoop Dogg rapping it himself?
Even Chance The Rapper has jumped on board, providing interpreting services and free front row tickets for the hearing impaired at every remaining leg of his tour. Kelly Kurdi of DEAFinitely Dope, the sign language translators who were paid to perform and have an extensive list of covers on YouTube, says it is an emotional experience. “We’ve all been close to tears since we met him, because we just can’t believe that he’s willing to provide interpreters on his own," she said.
As the trend continues to grow at shows, XXL highlights 11 times rap artists teamed up with ASL interpreters, in turn delivering a standout performance. Catch up below.
Earlier this month (June 4), 2013 XXL Freshman Logic challenged his ASL interpreter, Kat, to keep up with him during his set at Governors Ball. The Everybody creator performed a freestyle for the crowd, and to everyone's delight, Kat was able to keep up with an impressive, speedy show of her own.
If you ever wanted to use sign language to express "Bring your girls to the crib, maybe we can solve 'em," Amber Galloway Gallego is here to show you how. Amber's notable performance of "Fuckin' Problems," A$AP Rocky's cut featuring Kendrick Lamar and various other rappers, went viral due to her charismatic delivery alongside K. Dot.
As many members of the Wu-Tang Clan there may be, celebrated interpreter Holly Maniatty stole the show during their "Bring Da Ruckus" performance at Bonnaroo in 2013. Holly, an avid hip-hop enthusiast, has garnered millions of views on YouTube for her work.
In the video for "Hear My Heart," rapper Andy Mineo put himself in a hearing-impaired person's shoes as he delivered lyrics about his sister, Grace. As a youngster, Mineo used to make fun of his deaf sibling, but made this video to right his past actions in this touching tribute. "I knew I wanted to sign this song for my sister in video form, but I wanted to do it in a way that could bridge the gap between the hearing and the deaf,” he said.
During the 2017 Jazz Fest in New Orleans on May 6, Holly Maniatty appeared on the sidelines yet again and interpreted Snoop Dogg's verse on 50 Cent's "P.I.M.P." to rave reviews. Holly's latest act helped her reached over 13 million views online.
Holly got the approval of Atlanta's Killer Mike at Bonnaroo in 2013. The crowd went into a round of applause as the Run The Jewels MC admired her for the first time, informing her that her lively interpretations are "cool shit."
In April 2014, Wiz Khalifa appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! as three ASL interpreters battled it out over "Black & Yellow," including Holly and Amber. The stoned rapper, who was obviously indecisive, ultimately picked all three ladies as the winners.
Maniatty's performance of T.I.'s "U Don't Know Me" in 2015 was highly popularized on social media. The short clip was reposted thousands of times to the approval of hip-hop fans everywhere.
Public Enemy's Flavor Flav and Chuck D put attention on Holly and her fellow interpreter during their set at New Orleans Jazz Fest. Their performance of "Don't Believe the Hype" showed them holding their own.
During his promotion for Capo in 2011, Jim Jones released the music video for "Perfect Day," a lighter track than what we're used to seeing from the Harlem rapper. Complete with an interpreter in the corner to take on his lyrics, Jimmy dedicated the visual to those with hearing disabilities, soldiers and people affected by cancer.