JAY-Z’s latest album, 4:44, dropped at midnight on Friday, and while fans haven’t been able to stop raving over songs like “Kill Jay-Z” and “4:44,” which seemingly reference wife Beyoncé’s Lemonade and themes of infidelity, there’s a particularly significant song about a whole other area of the rapper’s life — his relationship with his mother, Gloria Carter.
Carter came out as lesbian in “Smile,” the third track off her son’s 13th album. It’s the first time either of the two has publicly addressed her sexual identity.
“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian, had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian,” the Brooklyn, New York, native raps about 40 seconds in. “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. I just want to see you smile through all the hate.”
Carter wraps up the track with a spoken word outro, saying, “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.”
“The world is changing and they say it’s time to be free, but you live with the fear of just being me,” she continues. “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.”
Following the album’s release, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis gave a statement to ET in response to the news.
“Lesbian women are all too often erased or excluded from narratives surrounding LGBTQ people,” Ellis explained. “By sharing her truth with the world, Gloria Carter is increasing visibility of lesbian women of color 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.”
Back in 2012, JAY-Z was one of the first major rappers to publicly talk about his support for gay marriage.
“I’ve always thought [not allowing same-sex individuals to wed] was still, um, holding the country back,” he said during an interview with CNN. “What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. [It] is no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination plain and simple.”