Jay-Z is the proud son of a lesbian woman.
The 47-year-old living legend dropped his 13th album, 4:44, at midnight on TIDAL (in partnership with Sprint) with 10 brand new recordings. One of the tracks, “Smile,” features Stevie Wonder‘s vocals and ends with a spoken word performance by his mom, Gloria Carter.
“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 / 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,” Jay-Z raps in one verse. “Marie Antoinette, baby, let ’em eat cake.”
As a single mom, Gloria raised her four kids—including Andrea Carter, Eric Carter and Michelle Carter—in Brooklyn. After so many years supporting her superstar son from behind the scenes, she finally gets her own moment to shine in the song’s outro. “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,” she says. “But life is short, and it’s time to be free / Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed / Smile.”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis praised Gloria for sharing her story. “Lesbian women are all too often erased or excluded from narratives surrounding LGBTQ people,” she told E! News in a statement Friday. “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.”
Though some of Jay-Z’s earlier songs include anti-gay slurs, his feelings towards the LGBTQ community have evolved over the years. As the 21-time Grammy winner told CNN in 2012, “What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love. It is no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.”