Jay-Z's Mum Comes Out To The World On His New Album

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.
Jay-Z's new album 4:44 delves into deeply personal territory for the rapper, who talks about everything from his infidelities and Beyoncé's miscarriage, to his brush-up with Solange Knowles and beef with Kanye West. But amidst the disses and confessions, there's a beautiful, heartfelt song in the mix that reveals something we haven't seen in the headlines before: Jay-Z's mother, Gloria Carter, is gay.
On "Smile," a track featuring Stevie Wonder, the 47-year-old mogul publicly addresses his mum's sexual orientation, which she kept hidden for most of her life, for the first time. The touching lyrics include this verse: "Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian / Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate / Society shame and the pain was too much to take."
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Jay-Z — who told CNN in 2012 that banning gay marriage is "no different than discriminating against blacks" and that legalising it is "the right thing to do as a human being" — expresses so much love for his mum in the song. He continues: "Cried tears of joy when you fell in love / Don't matter to me if it's a him or her / I just wanna see you smile through all the hate / Marie Antoinette, baby, let 'em eat cake."
Then, Gloria herself takes the mic for a moving spoken-word outro, in which she talks about "living two lives" and living "with the fear of just being me."
Here are her touching words in full:
Living in the shadow
Can you imagine what kind of life it is to live?
In the shadows people see you as happy and free
Because that's what you want them to see
Living two lives, happy, but not free
You live in the shadows for fear of someone hurting your family or the person you love
The world is changing and they say it's time to be free
But you live with the fear of just being me
Living in the shadow feels like the safe place to be
No harm for them, no harm for me
But life is short, and it's time to be free
Love who you love, because life isn't guaranteed
Smile
The track is already garnering love and applause from the LGBTQ community. GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis quickly released a statement commending Gloria, as Rolling Stone reports. "Lesbian women are all too often erased or excluded from narratives surrounding LGBTQ people," the note reads. "By sharing her truth with the world, Gloria Carter is increasing visibility of lesbian women of colour at a critical time and sending a powerful message of empowerment to the entire LGBTQ community that is perfectly timed with the end of Pride Month."
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We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Thank you, Gloria and Jay.
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