My Q&A With An ASL Interpreter Who Raps In Sign Language

How would you like to rap alongside Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, or Future?

Because that’s what Amber Galloway-Gallego is doing, except she’s doing it with American Sign Language.

Galloway-Gallego, who says she once wished to be the “first white female rapper,” is a nationally certified ASL interpreter with over 14 years of interpreting experience. She translates music into sign language so the deaf community can better enjoy live concerts.

Over the years she’s parlayed this into a career as a kind of arena interpreter for the stars, amassing a resume of over 400 artists ranging from Adele to Billy Joel, Destiny’s Child, the list goes on and across myriad genres.

In addition to expressing the emotion and tonality of the music, she is responsible for interpreting lyrics into ASL, which is more difficult than it sounds.

Interested in learning ASL? This seems like a good book to start with: Learn American Sign Language

ASL is its own language with its own rules for grammar — you can’t just take the lyrics of “She Loves You” by The Beatles and sign every word as Paul McCartney sings them.

Galloway-Gallego has to actually interpret one language into another, English to ASL.

And that’s where things get difficult. That’s where she has to get creative, i.e. pantomiming a character shooting-up on Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ infamous heroin undercurrent on the hook of “Under the Bridge.”

Below is a Q&A I did with Galloway-Gallego for via email (link to the original article at the bottom).

More on Galloway-GallegoThis Woman Is Rapping Kendrick Lamar Songs In Sign Language

What were some songs (besides ‘The Monster’) that were difficult to interpret and why?

“Rap God” was by far the hardest song I have ever had to interpret because of the incredible genius Eminem is, how to make equivalents in ASL, and to truly represent him and his goal for the audience is always a challenge with keeping in mind the sheer speed he raps in that song. It took me two months to break it down. Rap is always a difficult task but I respect the culture and the artist so much that I do not mind doing extra homework.

What is your process for interpreting a song? I imagine each song has its own challenges.

So this is what I typically do. I first research who the artist is. I use several different websites. I then listen to the artist, hear the pace, the way they form words and concepts and then I look at lyrics to make sure I hear it correctly. I am hard of hearing so I have to truly memorize the lyrics. I then take the song and make pictures in my head of what emotions are being evoked, what should each character look like, then deliver that to the Deaf audience.

What do you hope for the future of music accessibility for deaf folks?

That all venues will provide professional music interpreters and stop making Deaf people fight for their basic human rights, which is access to the communication. Deaf people fight daily for access and it has to stop.

Who is your favorite artist to interpret and why?

My favorite artist is whoever I am interpreting at that moment. I have to love them because they are being represented on my hands and the Deaf fans deserve that and so does the artist. [O]n my song list when I am not prepping for a show, you will hear me jamming to Queen Latifah, 2Pac, Melissa Etheridge, Tegan and Sara, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fleetwood Mac … I am extremely eclectic.

A version of this article was originally published on

This Woman Is Rapping Kendrick Lamar Songs In Sign Language

Amber Galloway Gallego is an American Sign Language interpreter. But she’s not just any ASL interpreter — she translates music to sign in her own special way.

Literally. She’s mastered this special method of signing.

Amber Galloway Gallego and Kendrick Lamar
Amber Galloway Gallego and Kendrick Lamar (photo via Priceonomics)

Amber has interpreted over 400 concerts, including for Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Future, and so many  more.

“That’s the whole reason we go to music events — is to be a part of this experience and forget about the reset of the world and be there in that moment,” Amber says in the video below. “And so many times, deaf people are not allowed that experience because we as hearing people choose to say ‘no.'”

Check out this fascinating video about how it works (note: this video has the F-word in it)…

Not something you’ve thought about before, right? Yeah, me neither. 

Because of people like Amber, everyone can enjoy music — even the people whom we often assume cannot. Yet again, the power of music breaks down barriers and breaks into people’s lives.

If you want to see her in action at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, check out the video below…

This 18-Year-Old Produced A Kendrick Lamar Song With Only His iPhone

Who says you need a fancy recording studio with expensive mics to make high quality music? Steve Lacy of The Internet has never said that.

Lacy has shown us that you don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars to record pro-sounding music — you just need your iPhone, your guitar, and GarageBand.

He’s not the first band to record an album on an iPhone, or even on an iPad. But Lacy is getting a lot of buzz.

He produced the song “PRIDE” from Kendrick Lamar’s new album, DAMN, entirely with his iPhone, reports Wired.

RELATED: 3 Of The Best (And Cheapest) Microphones For Home Recording

RELATED: My favorite (cheap) recording programs

So I have no excuse to not record that song I’ve been wanting to record. I no longer can use the excuse, “I’ll never record an album because it’s too expensive.”

At the very least, I can just whip out my phone and start tracking songs.