For deaf Detroit rapper, Super Bowl appearance is ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ – The Morning Sun
“The opportunity of a lifetime” was not lost on Sean Forbes this week in Los Angeles.
The Deaf Royal Oak rapper, who co-founded the Deaf Professional Arts Network (D-Pan) to make music accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing, performs as part of the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show on Sunday, February 13. , along with fellow Detroiter Eminem, Dr. Dre. Snoop Dog, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige. Forbes will join actor Warren “Wawa” Snipe to present songs from the segment in American Sign Language (ASL).
Snipe also signed Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan’s national anthem ahead of last year’s Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida.
“It will be a bit unusual for Wawa and I because we’re both used to writing and performing our own songs,” Forbes, 40, said during a break from rehearsals. “Wawa is also an actor, so he’ll be playing whatever performers he signs on to, while I’ll be performing all these songs like I did for my friends in my college dorm.
“My love for West Coast hip-hop runs deep, and Dre was not only a big influence on me, but his signature Em was definitely life-changing and gave me the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl with them.”
Forbes, whose father Scott was part of the duo Forbes Brothers, has known Eminem since he was a teenager and both worked at the 54 Sound studio in Ferndale. An ASL video of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was his first major release.
“I have a lot of fond memories of (Eminem) early in my career, but it was just too surreal,” recalls Forbes, who was called about the Super Bowl appearance in late December by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) CEO Howard Rosenblum. “I was going to work with (producer) Jake Bass and I would pass (Eminem) in the halls saying, ‘What’s up?’ But beyond that, I was just starting my music career and he was already an icon.
“Being here by his side and making his music visual in ASL, something I’ve been doing for 20 years — 30 years if you count Snoop and Dre — I still pinch myself. Ten-year-old Sean would be thrilled.
Forbes released a pair of full-length albums and, along with Bass, led 2018’s Deaf and Loud Symphony Experience with the Detroit Symphony and others. The appearance of the Super Bowl, he says, is another major step in integrating the ASL into the global cultural mainstream.
“We have films centered on American Sign Language nominated for Oscars,” notes Forbes. “(ASL) is one of the most popular languages people want to learn. More commercials and TV shows include ASL. Even the White House provides ASL in its live broadcasts. Having ASL under the spotlight on entertainment’s biggest stage, and for him to be three of my favorite rappers of all time, it doesn’t get any bigger than that.
Other musical moments of note during Super Bowl LVI weekend include:
• Eminem opened a pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles to serve Mom’s Spaghetti dishes that are regularly served in downtown Detroit.
• The Chainsmokers will headline NFL TikTok Tailgate Night outside SoFi Stadium, starting at 2:55 p.m. on the league’s TikTok account. Portions of the set will be televised on NBC’s pregame show (WDIV, Channel 4 in Detroit).
• Country star Mickey Guyton will perform ‘Star Spangled Banner’ before kick-off, while R&B singer Jhene Aiko will sing ‘America the Beautiful’. Gospel duo Mary Mary will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” accompanied by the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. Zedd will be the official pre-game DJ and emcee.
• At 11 p.m., the Foo Fighters will perform a special concert conducted by Mark Romanek, streaming on Facebook and Instagram as well as via Horizon Ventures, the VR app from Meta (formerly Facebook). The group promised to perform a song they have never performed live but did not specify which one.