Silent Mob

By Gio Pinto

Silent Mob is a deaf rap group from the Bronx, led by James Taylor aka Def Thug. Members of the group turn up instrumental beats until a vibration can be felt in their chests. The group raps in American Sign Language, but as with spoken language and traditional hip-hop and rap music, the style and lingo of deaf rappers varies.

Dolla Will, a friend of Silent Mob from Houston, signs slower and with Houston slang. Def Jef throws his signs fast, on par with the lyrical speed of the rapper Twista.

As children, the group’s members heard family members listening to hip-hop and rap music at parties. Closed captions on shows like “Yo MTV Raps” and “Video Music Box” provided the lyrics to songs. In their own South Bronx neighborhood, KRS-one and Boogie Down Productions filmed music videos nearby.

Members of the group formed Silent Mob in high school, when they attended the Lexington School for the Deaf. The groups’ songs often contain themes of what it means to be deaf, such as communicating via text message and “deaf can do it.”

Silent Mob hopes to someday break out of the underground scene and make it big in the rap world. The group also hosts hip-hop shows for the deaf community. The next one will be in Houston, Texas on July 6th.