Listen to His Hands: Deaf Hip-Hop Artist Sean Forbes

Listen to His Hands

"Everyone was kind of quiet and Eminem looks at me and he's like: ‘Deaf people like music?!’” - Sean Forbes

When I asked Detroit-based hip-hop musician, Sean Forbes, why he signs when he raps, his answer was simple: "How many opportunities are there for deaf and hearing people to be together? Music is one of them and with my music I aim to make the show accessible by having the lyrics behind me, by being inclusive of everyone." Forbes’ interest in rapping began when he would sign the lyrics of songs by rappers like Eminem to his deaf friends so they could enjoy the music too.

What started as a fun hobby has exploded into a career both on and off the stage. Forbes not only tours at hearing and deaf schools around the country, he's also the co-founder of the nonprofit organization D-PAN, or the Deaf Professional Arts Network. With D-PAN, Forbes and his partners are breaking down barriers to the entertainment industry for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. D-PAN also produces American Sign Language interpretations of music videos of popular songs like the White Stripes’ "We're Going to Be Friends."

Forbes is working hard to close the gap between the hearing and the deaf communities with his unique brand of hip-hop.