Mahawam Opens Up About Living With HIV in New Video for 'Michelle Pfieffer': Watch

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MaHaWaM

In the 30-plus years since the HIV/AIDS pandemic swept across the United States and took hold of public discourse, the conversation surrounding the disease has gone quiet. While newer treatments and medication can help slow the virus’ progress, there are still more than 30 million people living with the virus, and the vicious stigma surround those living with HIV and AIDS still persists.

But hip-hop vocalist Mahawam has had enough of the quiet. The star’s brand-new song and video “Michelle Pfieffer,” premiering below, tackles the complex emotional trauma that came when they contracted the human immunodeficiency virus. The Oakland-born star uses the song to talk about their own emotional turmoil, singing, “I’m not really dying, but I’m not fine/ I don’t really know what to call that line/ Best of both worlds, best and worst of times.”

Mahawam told Billboard that they want this song to be their “unofficial Black entry to the AIDS Quilt songbook canon,” in order to try and help others struggling with their diagnosis and the pain that comes with it. “It’s as stark a picture as I was able to paint at the time of my decision to move forward through the pain of contracting HIV, just as the neglectful eye of American healthcare and social service expects of Black, queer bodies,” they said.

The song’s video follows the singer as they are asked a series of increasingly difficult questions about their mental health. As Mahawam searches for a new way to process their emotions, they get exceedingly reckless with the amount of alcohol and drugs they use throughout the video.

Throughout the song and video, though, Mahawam undercuts some of their darker thoughts with throwaway jokes and references about Dragonball Z, 101 Dalmatians and, as the title suggests, Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of Catwoman. “[The references] probably seems odd, but before I had any ambition of communicating all of this to anyone else I had to have that conversation with myself,” they said.

Check out Mahawam’s full video for “Michelle Pfeiffer” below: