Be Encouraged: ASL Interpreting for Hip Hop

William Woods ASL

 ASL Interpreting for Hip Hop

The Look into ASL blog has mentioned before that ASL interpreters can pursue a specialization as a performing arts interpreter, including interpreting concerts. Very often, musicians hire interpreters for their large venue concerts, and Deaf attendees can request interpreters for shows as well.

Known for his powerful lyrics and heavy involvement in several philanthropic causes, Chance the Rapper recently became one hip hop artist to bring interpreters to his stage.

In a video with interpreter DEAFinitely Dope by his side, Chance announced last month he will be bringing interpreters on stage for the remainder of his Be Encouraged tour.

“We will have interpreters at the show, which will be a new thing going forward to help everyone experience the show,” Chance said.

Holly Maniatty is one ASL interpreter best known for her sign language interpreting at large festivals for rappers like Snoop Dogg and Eminem. According to a recent USA Today article, “Maniatty is usually hired by the disability department of a festival, to allow equal access to the concert for Deaf concert-goers. Deaf patrons will request interpreting services for specific acts.”

Maniatty explains that there is a lot of work that goes into preparing for a concert beforehand. This includes extensive research on the artist, and the lyrics to many of their songs.

Hip hop lyrics come fast — arguably faster than any other music genre — and often use a lot of slang, which can make for a highly challenging, yet exciting interpreting experience.

Student organizations at William Woods like the Hands Up! club is a great way for ASL interpreting students to gain practice and build confidence, building a solid foundation for a successful career in performance interpreting.