Leeds rapper Graft appears in new BBC show We Are England exploring his ancestral roots

Leeds rapper Graft is featured in a new BBC documentary, embarking on a journey to trace his ancestral roots.

By Abbey Maclure
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 5:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 5:04 pm

The 22-year-old, real name Jovanni Sterling, is a MOBO-award winning artist who shot to fame on the BBC's Rap Game UK.

He was crowned the champion of the second series of the show, which sees rap duo Krept and Konan and 1Xtra’s DJ Target search for the UK’s next big MC.

As part of a new BBC iPlayer boxset, We Are England, Graft discovers more about his African ancestry.

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Graft discovers more about his African ancestry in the new BBC documentary

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His maternal grandparents came to England in the 1950s from the Caribbean island St Kitts and settled in Leeds, while his father moved to the UK from Jamaica as a young child.

In the show, Graft visits his old secondary school, Carr Manor, while awaiting the results of a DNA ancestry test.

Speaking on the show, he said: "My surname is not a representation of who I am.

"It's a surname that was given to my ancestors in the most abrupt manner. It frustrates me thinking about it now - to know that the surname that I have comes from somebody else that enslaved my family."

Born in Gledhow, Graft moved to Chapeltown as a child and later to Oakwood, playing for the Leeds United Academy as a youngster.

He left his footballing dreams behind to pursue a career as a musician, a decision that is now paying off.

You can watch the documentary here.