They say that the first impression should be your best impression. Well with my introduction to DEAFinitely Dope, it was indeed a lasting print left on me. To my knowledge, “DEAFinitely” relates to the effectiveness to embrace ASL (better known as American Sign Language) that’s a common language established for people who are deaf. The word “Dope” is a traditional (hip hop) slang use to imply that someone and/or something is extraordinary in what they do. When you put those two words together, you get Mattew Maxey and a well-respected brand and a purpose that everyone can understand!
We recently got the chance to speak with Matt and ask him about his life and his brand DEAFinitely Dope to see what they’re all about.
Where are you originally from? I’ve seen one citing Jacksonville and another one said Atlanta.
Originally, I was born in Atlanta, and then moved to Ft. Hood, Texas when I was 4 years old. I grew up in Central Texas, Dallas and then Atlanta. I was residing in Jacksonville from 2011 to December 2016.
Any plans to do anything in particular in Jacksonville with you and the organization? Can you give a brief description of what the organization entails from your standpoint?
With my organization, DEAFinitely Dope, our mission is more to break barriers with the hearing and deaf worlds. Jacksonville has an unique deaf population with ASL programs in mainstream institutes such as University of North Florida, Mandarin High School, Ed White High School, Atlantic Coast High School, as well as Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and Pedro Menendez High School in neighboring St. Augustine. We have traveled around providing a deaf perspective from a deaf male that is able to communicate via sign and speech, and shows that the students can also do the same as well. For example, I included two videos [that demonstrate a bit of what we do].
What are some of your favorite artists to interpret?
My favorite artist to interpret is J. Cole for the storytelling lyricism, you realize just how visual his lyrics are when you see them in sign language. Other favorites include Kendrick Lamar, Migos, DMX, 2pac, T.I. and Big K.R.I.T. I pick these artists because they are a challenge to interpret, and they are rarely interpreted into sign language, so with DEAFinitely Dope and interpreting, sign language is trailblazing a way into the hip hop culture.
Are there any other bigger goals you’re shooting for to get your talents out more?
It’s not so much an emphasis on my talents, but more in creating different outlets to expose society to the proper form of sign language and for more involvement/accessibility/inclusion for the deaf community. In doing interviews, being in progress for becoming a Certified Deaf Interpreter, performing in sign language, speaking in classrooms, hosting workshops, all of that helps me serve a purpose in life. Instead of fame-chasing, I’m more than content fulfilling my purpose, the message will spread in due time.
Explain your involvement in the camp that will be happening in Houston.
That camp is going to be amazing! I moved to Houston after I left Jacksonville and connected with an interpreting community as well as a strong business team focused on giving back to the community. My role is more of teaching hip hop, the culture of hip hop, the background of hip hop and how to express yourself in hip hop form. There are VERY FEW African American role models from the deaf community, and they are all older than me, so with my involvement I can provide positivity for the deaf minority youth that never see a role model that they can relate to, teach interpreters about the ways of the deaf minority community and expose them to the linguistics and mannerisms of authentic hip hop — and then teach everybody that attends our camp how to begin being able to sign music so that they can go home feeling included, informed and passionate about what they just learned from attending camp.
Explain how long you have had your condition.
It’s not really a condition, it’s more of a disability that you use as an ability when you look on the bright side. I have had hearing loss since birth, worn hearing aids since I was 2 years old, and didn’t even learn how to use sign language until I was 18 years old. When you spend your life defying the odds, barriers no longer become an obstacle because now you know that anything is possible.
For more information on Matthew Maxey and his previous, current, and future moves, swing over to www.deafinitelydope.com.