Hear Jay-Z's Mother Reveal Why She Came Out on '4:44' Song

Gloria Carter says she wrote "Living in the Shadows," her poem featured on "Smile," during plane ride

Jay-Z's mother Gloria Carter discussed her decision to come out publicly on her son's '4:44' track, "Smile." Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Jay-Z's mother, Gloria Carter, discussed coming out as a lesbian to her son during an interview on the D'ussé Friday podcast. Carter also recalled her trepidation about sharing her story so publicly on Jay's 4:44 track "Smile." Carter's remarks begin around the 25:45 mark.

"Me and my son share a lot of information, so I was sitting there and I was telling him one day, I just finally started telling him who I was," Carter said. "Besides your mother, this is the person that I am, this is the life that I live. 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."

Carter said she was wary of "Smile" the first time she heard it, because she wasn't sure she was ready to share her story with the world. During a plane trip to visit Jay, Carter had a change of heart. She said she felt compelled to help her son with the track and wrote a poem called "Living in the Shadows" that she would read on the song.


"When I got there I was like, 'I'm gonna help you along,'" Carter said. "I said, 'Look at this,' and he was like, 'Wow, you wrote this on the plane?' So I said, 'Yeah,' and he said, 'Start reading it.' So I started reading it and he was taping me – I taped it on the phone!"

Carter said she refrained from coming out for so long not out of self-protection, but because she was worried her status as Jay-Z's mother might lead to inaccurate rumors about her dating life that would potentially hurt other women and families. 

"I was never ashamed of me, but my family, it was something that was never discussed," she said. "Because everybody knows who I am, I don't hide who I am … I'm tired of all the mystery. I'm gonna give it to 'em. I don't have to worry about anybody wondering whether I'm in the life or not – I'm gonna tell them." She added: "Now it's time for me to be live my life and be happy, be free."