Extraordinary makes themselves heard

DEAFinitely Dope is Matthew Maxey, a hard of hearing performer and sign language interpreter who unites the deaf and hearing communities through music and sign language. Based in Atlanta, Georgia — the hip-hop capital of the world — DEAFinitely Dope collaborates with headliners like Chance the Rapper and Migos to bring hip-hop music to the deaf and hard of hearing. Matthew takes us inside his process, from why artists benefit from him signing at their shows to how his positive mindset has allowed him to live a truly Extraordinary life.

DEAFinitely Dope happened organically. I was doing a freestyle rap competition. People heard me and were like, Yo, you sound funny. Wait a minute — you’re deaf, and you’re rapping? Man, I’ve never seen anything like this. Then: Wait, you’re freestyle rapping with sign language? Hold up. And then Damian Lillard of the Portland

Our MISSION is, Are you interested in EXPERIENCING MUSIC in a DIFFERENT way?

Trailblazers, who was hosting the competition, posted a video of me on his social media and it brought a lot of traffic to my YouTube channel. I was like, Yo, all these people really rock with me. They really like my stuff. So how can I create something that brings everyone together?

DEAFinitely Dope aims to improve things for both communities: the deaf and the hearing. Our mission is, Are you interested in experiencing music in a different way? We can introduce you to it. Are you interested in learning more about growing up deaf? We can tell you what it’s like. If you think about it, deaf people are never really seen in the mainstream culture. So we want to give deaf people a brand that supports them, gives them more hope, and brings more awareness to their everyday experience.

We also want to give the artists a bigger audience. We preach to them: Hey, you win in this game. You can bring us in, have the deaf community enjoy your music, and then have the hearing community learn more about the deaf community. Who knows, they might just want to learn sign language after seeing one of their favorite songs signed on stage. It’s a powerful way for the artists to get more reach while moving our message forward.

DEAFintely Dope really took off when we toured with Chance the Rapper. He is such a big supporter of our mission. We went to London, and the festival we were performing at didn’t know anything about having a sign language interpreter on stage, but Chance would not let it go down without me up there with him. Now artists come to us, instead of the other way around, because they believe in what we’re doing and want to be a part of it.

I have to be around people who are on the same page as me, just to feel that, hey, we have the same goals. I’m about positive vibes only. My mom has always been positive, so that’s my model and the standard for everyone I’ve become tight with. I feel that the actions an Extraordinary person takes are positive ones. They do something positive for their community, for people who are underrepresented, who never really had the support or something in their lives that would make them feel less alone.

I also think an Extraordinary person is unafraid. You have to be willing to take that leap of faith, take that jump, do what you thought you couldn’t do, or at least try it, and then see what happens. Even if it doesn’t work at first, keep going. If it’s really your passion, keep going. If you can do that, follow your dream, stay true to it, and dedicated — to me, that’s Extraordinary.