Tuesday evening [February 16, 2015], preceding the Black Panther documentary that aired on PBS, two of Hip Hop’s most credited pioneers sat down to discover the little know history of their ancestry in PBS’s Finding Your Roots.
In separate experiences, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and James Todd Smith, also known as LL Cool J, sat across from host Dr. Henry Louis Gates to learn their family trees host record of their ancestors having being freed before the Emancipation of 1863.
While Combs learned his third great-grandparents were living as free African-Americans in Maryland, Smith was learning of his great-great grandparents who lived as free men and women.
Both men’s stories shared similar characteristics such as these: their relatives were inhabitants of “free” states or states where slavery had long worn out its purpose. For Puffy it was Maryland, a state that had seen thousands of slave owners releasing their slaves for both moral and financial reasons.
LL Cool J’s great-grandparents, however, were born into the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, where slavery had been abolished long ago, revealing that these relatives were born into freedom.
The common trait that relayed from both of them seemed to be one that stemmed from a sense of guilt and also of confusion.
“I never at any point want other African-Americans to feel like I don’t relate because I absolutely do,” LL Cool J said at one point.
The episode also chronicled the reunion of LL with with new individuals he finds out he is related to after an extensive look into his genealogy conducted by Dr. Gates’s team.
You can watch a clip of Sean Combs’ ancestry discovery below an find more clips from last night’s showing here.