The emotional duet that Gloria Carter, JAY-Z’s mother, recorded with her son to tell the world that she’s a lesbian almost never saw the light of day.
Carter — speaking for the first time since she came out via “Smile” in June — revealed that she wasn’t happy with the track at first, and nearly had her son hold off on including it on his album “4:44.”
The rap mogul’s mother said that her initial coming out moved her son to tears, and inspired him to write a song about her having to hide her sexuality from the world for years.
“I just finally started telling (JAY-Z) who I was. Besides your mother, this is the person that I am. This is the life that I live,” Carter told the D’USSE Friday podcast. “So my son started actually tearing. ‘Cause he’s 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.”
JAY-Z’s lyrics were straight and to the point, and “Smile” includes lines such as: “Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian/Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian.”
But his directness initially spooked Carter, who says she wasn’t sold on the track the first time she heard it.
“I was sharing myself with (JAY-Z), not to share myself with the world,” she recalled. “I don’t know if I’m ready for that.”
Carter changed her tune after turning her feelings into poetry aboard a flight. She eventually read the words she’d written to her son, who recorded them and ultimately had his mother speak them on the track.
“I was never ashamed of me,” she said of deciding to finally share her story with the world. “I’m tired of all the mystery. I’m gonna give it to them. I don’t have to worry about anybody wondering if I’m in the life or not. I’m gonna tell them. So now that I told you what do you have to talk about? So now maybe you can focus on the phenomenal things I do.”
Carter’s spoken-word rap includes powerful lines like: “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.”