JAY-Z's 4:44 was a huge hit when it dropped at the end of June 2017. With some of the most vulnerable, reflective songs we've ever heard from the hip hop vet turned mogul, the album is arguably Hov's most impactful project to date.
One of the memorable songs on 4:44 was JAY-Z's "Smile." This specific track tells the story of the rapper's mother, Gloria Carter, coming out to him. "Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian," JAY raps on the beat. "Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate / Society shame and the pain was too much to take / Cried tears of joy when you fell in love / Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her."
After 4:44 was released, Gloria revealed that JAY wrote the song just one day after she came out to him in a deep conversation. "Besides your mother, this is the person that I am, you know? This is the life that I lived," she recalled in a previous interview. "So, my son started actually, like, tearing because he was like, ‘That had to be a horrible life, ma.’ I was like, ‘My life was never horrible. It was just different.’ So that made him want to do a song about it."
Now, JAY is speaking about the powerful moment. During his appearance on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, the artist said: "Imagine having to live your life as someone else, right? And you think you're protecting your kids and for my mother to have to live as someone that she wasn't and hide and like protect her kids, didn't want to embarrass her kids."
He continued: "For her to sit in front of me and tell me, 'I think I love someone.' I mean, I really cried. That's a real story. I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free."
Watch JAY-Z speaking about his mother coming out above.
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