*Nas will be among the new crop of celebrities presented with their family history in the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” — and the first rapper to ever appear on the program, which begins its second season in September.
“We introduced Nas to five generations – we’ve never been able to do this before for any African American – five generations of his enslaved ancestors,” said the show’s host Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. during a TCA panel Wednesday morning.
Researchers also unearthed an actual 1859 bill of sale for his third great grandmother whose name was Pocahontas Little. It’s a document Gates referred to as “extremely rare, something we’d never seen before.”
Upon seeing the document, Nas told reporters, “I had to stop and deal with that for a moment. This is a sale of a human being. This was business here in this country.”
Nas says he was initially “enraged” at the bill of sale: “I was like, that guy that owned property owes me some cash. My people made him really wealthy, so maybe I should find his family and talk.”
Nas appeared on the panel this morning alongside season 2 participants Courtney B. Vance, Khandi Alexander and writer and actress Anna Deavere Smith.
Below, Nas talks about how humbled he was to be on the stage in such company and part of a show he has admired from its first season. He also shares how learning about his history has influenced his present behavior.
The 10-part second season of “Finding Your Roots” premieres Sept. 23. Other season 2 subjects include Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba, Tina Fey, Sting, Stephen King, Billie Jean King, Derek Jeter, Carole King, Anderson Cooper, Gloria Reuben and chef Ming Tsai.