We’ve been excited about American Epic, the new music documentary miniseries coming to PBS and the BBC this month, since we got a look at the trailer in April, and on Thursday we got another tantalizing peek.
In a new clip from the series, which was executive-produced by Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford, White and Nas team up for a live performance of a 1928 blues nugget called ”‘On the Road Again,” by the Memphis Jug Band.
American Epic explores the 1920s roots of blues, country and other forms of indigenous American music, an era when record companies went exploring for new markets and instead found new musicians playing songs and styles that hadn’t been heard before.
Check out Jack White’s tour of Third Man Records for CBS This Morning
As Nas points out in the film, “This music from Memphis, they were rapping about street life and gangster life and hustling, and just a dark side of the world. It just goes to show me that rapping is a natural, poetic thing. It’s always been here. Long as there was English and black people, there was rap.”
The collaboration between Nas and White was a product of the series’ finale, called The American Epic Sessions, for which a host of musicians recorded songs using a replicated version of the recording rig used in the ‘20s. According to a press release, it’s the only such machine currently in existence. Other performers include Alabama Shakes, Beck, Willie Nelson, The Avett Brothers and Taj Mahal.
American Epic is set to air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST starting May 16.