Continuing the voyage of vulnerability on 4:44, JAY-Z pivots to highlight his mother Gloria Carter and her sexual identity. Between the sample of Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s In Need Of Love Today” on “Smile,” the rapper reveals his mother’s same sex relationship and how happy he was for her to find love again.
“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian/Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian,” he spits. “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.”
For the song’s outro, Ms. Carter’s gentle voice comes in as she recites a spoken word piece about true freedom.
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. Smile.
Almost immediately, JAY’s thoughts on same sex marriage from 2012 have permeated through the interwebs. In the interview with CNN, the rapper voice his support for the LGBTQ community. “What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love,” he said. “That’s their business. [It] is no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination plain and simple. I think [supporting same sex marriage] is the right thing to do, so whether it costs [Obama] votes or not—again, it’s not about votes. It’s about people. It’s the right thing to do as a human being.”
After hearing Ms. Carter’s reveal, GLAAD showed their support with the group’s President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis calling her statement “powerful” for lesbian women of color.
“Lesbian women are all too often erased or excluded from narratives surrounding LGBTQ people,” she said.”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.”
Listen to “Smile” below.