Sean Forbes has been deaf as long as he can remember. He’s also wanted to be a musician for just as long. Forbes became profoundly deaf when he developed a severe illness at only one year old. However, both of his parents played in bands, so music was a constant part of his childhood, whether it be from an instrument or from the stereo that was playing hits from The Beatles and Motown. Attracted to the vibrations from the beat, he first started playing the drums around the age of five, but moved up to guitar and bass by the time he was 10. The rap thing came later, though with the genre’s use of room-shaking bass, it should come as no surprise he’d gravitate towards the music. After shooting an American Sign Language music video of fellow Detroit rapper Eminem’s Lose Yourself, Forbes got noticed by Eminem’s studio, 54 Sound, who helped produce his debut EP, I’m Deaf. (You can check out the music video for the title track here.) The EP helped Forbes gain the attention of BMI, who signed him to a record contract earlier this year.
But for Forbes, his career doesn’t stop at a record deal. He has also turned his attention to other deaf artists by starting a non-profit organization called D-PAN (Deaf Performing Arts Network). D-PAN helps find and promote creative opportunities for deaf artists in a variety of fields, as well as produces American Sign Language videos of popular songs so that everyone can enjoy the music around them.