When Tracy Morgan would tell people he and rapper Nas “go way back,” he didn’t realize how true that was. As it turns out, the two aren’t just longtime friends; they’re biological family.
“I turn the last page, and guess who’s sitting there?” Morgan said. “Nas. Me and Nas is third cousins on my mom’s side.”
“But me and Esco was always tight before that,” he added of the rapper who has gone by many stage names over the course of his career, including Escobar. “I did a show years ago on Comedy Central called ‘One Mic’ that was for Nas’ mom that just passed away. So me and Esco always been tight.”
Morgan further revealed that he called Nas to deliver the surprising revelation.
“He started crying, I started crying. And I said to him, ‘If you ever need me, I’m there, cuz.’ He said, ‘Cuz, if you ever need me I’m there,’” Morgan recalled.
Discovering he was more than just “play cousins” with Nas was not the only meaningful insight Morgan gained from his experience on the show.
“They went back 400 years on my father’s side and 400 years on my mother’s side,” he said. “I thought I was big in my life till I found out what my great, great, great grandmother did. My great, great, great, great, great grandfather’s name was Abraham Mack. I know the name of the slave masters who owned us — I got it right here on my phone — and the slave ship.”
He noted how the whole experience left him with a deeper understanding of the importance of knowing one’s roots.
“You need to know who you come from before you leave this earth. Know who you are and where you come from,” Morgan said.
The PBS series has been responsible for many bombshell reveals for its celebrity guests, perhaps most notably Kerry Washington, who inadvertently discovered the father who raised her was not her biological father. In other episodes, Maya Rudolph, learned the extent of slavery on her mother’s side, while Shonda Rhimes learned an ancestor had a name that holds a special connection for her. In other familiar connections, Terry Crews discovered he is related to fellow actor Billy Crudup earlier this year, while RuPaul and Senator Cory Booker (D.- N.J.) were also revealed to be cousins.
The next season of “Finding Your Roots” premieres on Jan. 2 on PBS, and Morgan’s story will be featured in the upcoming eighth episode.