Watch 17-year-old Dave Chappelle rap about AIDS in a PSA from the 90s


The NAMES Project World AIDs Quilt is an ongoing 30-year project to document and memorialize people who had died of AIDS-related complications. During the ’80s, the stigma associated with the illness was such that many who died of AIDS did not receive funerals: Families either refused to bury the departed, or a funeral home or cemetery refused to take the remains. The quilt acts as a memorial for those people.

In 1990, the California School for the Deaf produced a short video about the quilt and its display in Washington D.C. In the video, a young man mentions that he is looking forward to having intercourse with an attractive woman. A second young man warns him that he has heard the attractive woman has been doing intravenous drugs and could potentially have AIDS. The first young man says that things could be worse since AIDS only kills “some people.”

“I’d like to die that way,” the man says. “Bullets kill people, car accidents kill people. Look at where we live, man.”

The skit is notable not only as a document of the early days of AIDS in America, but also because, as the AV Club points out, it marks one of the earliest onscreen appearances of the comedian Dave Chappelle. .

Following the short skit, Chappelle is joined by two new scene partners. One beatboxes while Chappelle begins to rap about how everyone has to be careful and try to keep AIDs in check. “It hits men, and women, and the young ladies/rich and poor, gay or straight, and the babies.”

Chappelle asks for compassion for victims of AIDS from both family members and the public at large before noting that people who have contracted AIDS need to get on antiretroviral medications immediately.

“It’s the ignorant ones who really seem to be ill/because what they don’t know is that ignorance kills,” closes Chappelle.

Then the chorus of “Control your jimmy, control your jimmy, AIDs gonna take over your society,” sung by a reggae singer, begins. This chorus goes on while the camera cuts away to the students signing things like “H.I.V.,” “Safe Sex,” and “Know Your Partner.”

Chappelle celebrated his 42nd birthday on Monday.

[H/T AV Club]

David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: [email protected]

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