("What they didn't know is that I was turning mine off," he says with a laugh.) So Maxey didn't begin learning to sign until he enrolled at Washington, D. And they would always get mad at me; I could talk and they couldn't.
C.'s, Gallaudet University, the world's only university for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. "I never really knew about deaf culture," Maxey says. It became kind of a hostile environment." Growing up in Atlanta, Maxey was exposed from an early age to hip-hop.
A few months back, for example, a video of a sign-language interpreter at a Waka Flocka show went viral.
Even before he started attracting attention signing at Chance the Rapper's shows in July, deaf and hard-of-hearing hip-hop fans had already begun referring to him as "the deaf Kanye West."Later on in this unseasonably mild August night, on Lolla's towering Grant Park stage, Chance the Rapper will pause during his anti-record-label anthem "No Problem" and let the audience finish his signature line: "Countin' Benjis while we meetin', make 'em shake my other hand." At that precise moment, though, Maxey's hands will be signing the phrases "counting money" and "meeting," then miming a left-handed handshake followed by an emphatic middle finger.
He kept making videos, though, learning new song lyrics by turning the volume all the way up in his earbuds—and last summer, his ASL video for DMX's "How's It Goin' Down" went viral after it surfaced on Reddit.
Around the same time, Maxey reached out to Kelly Kurdi—a Houston-based hearing sign-language interpreter who'd also released some music-translation videos on You Tube—to ask if she'd like to do a music video together.
So at night in his dorm room, Maxey practiced his sign language along with the lyrics of his favorite musicians—like J.
Cole and Kendrick Lamar—and in 2010, at the urging of a friend, he uploaded to You Tube a video of himself signing along to Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz's "One Night Stand."("One-night stand," for what it's worth, comes out to something more like "one-night fuck" in sign language.