Deafinitely Dope breaks barriers

Matthew Maxey uses unique ASL interpretations to bring hip-hop to the Deaf community

Matthew Maxey, a Deaf ASL interpreter, performer, and CEO of the hip-hop interpreting company Deafinitely Dope whose credits include Chance the Rapper, D.R.A.M, and most recently had two members at GBC Fest interpreting Tory Lanez on Nov. 23.

GBC Fest is hosted by the Student Assocation (SA) of George Brown College (GBC). 

The SA funds The Dialog.

His company interprets hip-hop, allowing those who are Deaf or hard of hearing to access those musical events. 

“It’s important to involve everyone in the community, which would include Deaf students as well,” Cindy Zambrano said, on why GBC should have interpreters at musical events. 

Zambrano is the student who recommended Deafinitely Dope to interpret at GBC Fest. 

Zambrano, who found out about Maxey on Instagram last year, said she finds him unique because he breaks barriers in the Deaf community by capturing the culture of hip-hop and the personality of the musicians he interprets for.

DEAFinitely Dope was created from scratch by Maxey, stating that it began with 4 a.m. jam sessions in his car. 

Now he is the owner of a company that is not only bringing a vital service to the Deaf community, but is bridging a connection for Deaf and hearing persons to experience music together. 

Deafinitely Dope actually started out as an idea to merge the Deaf and hearing communities with a brand that accommodates both. 

Maxey’s process for this included decoding the meaning to every lyric, applying those lyrics to what he has lived and witnessed, and then finding a way to interpret it so that both Deaf and hearing persons can understand the message being delivered.

Music has always been part of Maxey’s life, stating his main musical influence was actually his family. 

His love for music only grew from there, and learning ASL was the “the icing on the cake,” allowing him to interpret and perform the way he does today. 

Maxey stated that a challenge for many interpreters in the genre of hip-hop is that the lingo used is not part of their everyday lives. 

This was not a problem for Maxey, living in both the Deaf and hearing worlds, he learned the lingo from both perspectives.

Although Deafinitely Dope is working hard to break down barriers between the Deaf and hearing communities, there is still work to be done. 

Maxey noted that the media has the wrong idea with sign language just being cool, pulling focus on hearing interpreters, and only caring about what the interpretations look like, rather than the entire effect. 

Maxey stated he hopes to change this with Deafinitely Dope. 

Maxey has had quite a year in the spotlight, and as a Deaf interpreter he also is breaking down barriers for the future of hip-hop. 

Success has been a rollercoaster, according to Maxey. He is still “flabbergasted” looking back on his journey. 

When asked why having ASL interpreters at musical events is important, Maxey had this to say:

“It’s vital because once it becomes a norm instead of an accessory, that leads to more inclusion and accessibility on all fronts, music is just the gateway to more opportunities.”

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Deafinitely Dope breaks barriers