If you’re not familiar ASL, it stands for American Sign Language. A visual representation of spoken communication, sign language allows deaf people to communicate effectively and efficiently. It can even bring music to life for people who can’t hear it. Sign language can even bring rap to life in a brand new way of offering a new element of vitality to a medium that is already bursting with life. Check out Holly Maniatty.
Holly is a famous ASL interpreter and is renowned for efforts to bring the work of rappers like Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, the Wu-Tang Clan, and the Beastie Boys. Above she is signing at an Eminem concert, and she is ripping it up. She puts an awful lot of work into making sure she can do what she does so well. Talking on CBC, she explained:
“For example, when I was getting ready for the Wu-Tang show, they talk about riots in the street. And at that time, the Ferguson riots were just kind of finishing up so of course your mind would jump there because that’s a current event but you kind of have to take a moment… Go see when that song was written and see that they’re probably talking about the L.A. riots. And then think about something that’s more iconic about the L.A. riots in terms of visual accessibility and kind of build your interpretation that way to make it as authentic and close to the meaning of the person who wrote it… You just want to make sure that you’re providing the most authentic interpretation you can.”
It is a great move for rappers to be adding ASL interpreters to their lineups to make them more inclusive. If they’re all as good as Holly Maniatty, we might be looking at the birth of a brand new art form in itself.