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Gloria Carter Shares the Conversation with JAY-Z That Led to His Song "Smile"

Jay's mom revisits coming out to her son.
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

JAY-Z's stellar thirteenth studio album 4:44 has been meticulously dissected since its release in June. What set the album apart from Jay's past releases was its sobering honesty throughout its ten tracks, which showed a side of the hip-hop legend that few have ever seen. One of the most touching moments on 4:44 is "Smile," a song dedicated to Jay's mom, Gloria Carter, and her decision to finally come out as lesbian to him. In the song, he rapped: "Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian/ Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian."


Now, there is more insight into how Gloria revealed her truth to JAY-Z thanks to a sit down she did with the Roc Nation-affiliated podcast, D'usse Friday. "Besides your mother, this is the person that I am, this is the life that I live," she revisited their initial conversation. "So my son actually started tearing, because he was like, 'That had to be a horrible life, Ma.' And I was like, 'My life was never horrible, it was just different.' So that made him want to do a song about it." Gloria also revealed that when she first heard "Smile," she was against Jay sharing such a sacred story with the world. But on a plane ride to meet him in LA, she decided to assist him in amplifying the song's message by writing the poem that can be heard at the song's end. Listen to the full hour-long talk below and jump to the 25:42 mark to hear Gloria's back story on "Smile."

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