Rapper Jay-Z dropped his highly anticipated album, “4:44,” at midnight today. Listeners were not sure what to expect from the album, his first since 2013. Known for featuring guest stars on his songs, it was expected that other musical artists would make an appearance. No one anticipated, however,  that Jay-Z’s mother, Gloria Carter, would be on “4:44 ” or that the song on the album, titled “Smile,” would be her public coming out. 

The song starts off with a line from Jay-Z about his mom and the life she lived before she came out. 

“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian,” Jay-Z raps in the opening bars of the song. “Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate / Society shame and the pain was too much to take,” he adds, going on to confirm that he loves his mother no matter what. “Cried tears of joy when you fell in love / Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her.”

Jay-Z was not just going to come out on behalf of his mother. Gloria Carter joins the track and concludes the song with a poem about the struggle of living a secret life and the liberation of coming out. 

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


The album is available exclusively on Tidal, Jay-Z’s subscription streaming service, however you can listen to a snippit of the song below or sign up for a free trial of Tidal here