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Get to know the Deaf rapper who performed at the Super Bowl

deaf rapper performs at the Super Bowl

If you watched the Super Bowl yesterday, you may have noticed the moving performance of the “The Star Spangled Banner” by deaf rapper Warren Snipe.

Snipe is the originator of what he terms “Dip Hop,” a new genre of hip hop as seen through deaf eyes. This distinct style focuses on education through music, helping the hearing community to better understand the life and personal experiences of the deaf community.

Originator of Dip Hop

The Kansas City Chiefs faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Super Bowl LV, in which deaf rapper Warren Snipe, aka “Wawa,” performed not only the national anthem, but also “America the Beautiful” in American Sign Language (ASL). 

“Snipe is the originator of what he terms ‘Dip Hop,’ a new genre of hip hop as seen through deaf eyes.”

The rapper, who wears a cochlear implant, hails from Washington DC. He has released two albums: “Deaf: So What‽” and “Wamilton.” He has been involved in the scene since 2005. In his own words, he “Intends to aspire to inspire.”

Snipe worked with the National Deaf Dance Theatre and was a founding member of Wild Zappers in 1989, along with Irvine Stewart and Fred Michael Beam. Their purpose was to promote cultural and educational awareness through entertainment within deaf and hearing communities.

Wild Zappers also formed Invisible Hands International (IHI) is a non profit organization dedicated to the advancement of deaf and cultural awareness and to bridging the gap between the hearing and deaf communities.

Snipe, who is also a 5th degree Wushu Kung Fu black belt, appeared in two episodes of the Warner Brothers super hero series “Black Lightning” in 2017.

Read more: Meet Sean Forbes, the deaf rapper who is inspiring a generation

Snipe’s Single

Last year, Snipe released the single “Loud,” which referenced the COVID-19 global pandemic. When interviewed by The Daily Moth, he told them that he wanted to give people something fun to talk about amidst the fear from the pandemic and last summer’s protests over racial injustice. 

“So, I redirected things a bit,” Snipe told The Daily Moth. “I wouldn’t say I glossed things over, but rather, I addressed it. So things could be seen from a different view. It’s more positive: What can we do during this time? Will you allow these situations to take control? Or will you keep going? Are you a survivor? Or are you going to stay ‘dead,’ and do nothing? Which are you choosing? Well you let it control you, or will you control it? So it’s like oh, okay, there are different sides to that.”

Deaf Rapper Performed at the Super Bowl

Snipe accompanied R&B artist Jazmine Sullivan and country singer Eric Church on “The Star Spangled Banner” and R&B singer H.E.R. on “America the Beautiful.”

Standing off to one side of the singers, Snipe wore black slacks and a maroon button down shirt with a matching maroon tie. The left side of his head was shaved and the right side had salt and pepper (mostly salt) dreadlocks. His cochlear implant was visible through them.

Snipe seemed to sway to an inner beat before looking up and breaking in to a smile which said it all. With a fist pump, he began his performance. He finished by clapping and also using the deaf clap. He mouthed a single word at the end which looked ‘brave.”

Viewers took to Twitter with great interest, as can be seen from the following sample of Tweets:




What’s next

As to the screened performance itself, things were not as good as expected.

There was sadly no picture-in-picture, as the television broadcast only showed him briefly before concentrating on the other performers. Once again the deaf community has been offered a wonderful gift only to have it snatched away. There is still a long road to walk on the journey to inclusivity.

Author Details
Phonak hEARo, Phil is an actor, writer and journalist who writes in the deaf WellBeing and Lifestyle areas. He lives on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast with his wife Raine and their three children. Phil was diagnosed in 2016 and has moderate to severe Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and constant tinnitus. He uses Phonak silver Nathos Auto M hearing aids. Member DANC (Disabled Artists Networking Community)