Jay Z‘s mother begged the rapper not to release his deeply personal track “Smile” off his thirteenth studio album 4:44 (2017), in which he talked about his mom’s sexuality.
Gloria Carter was anxious about the song that detailed her coming out phase. Carter reportedly begged her son not to release the song — even though her sexuality was no secret by then.
Carter eventually changed her mind and presented her son with a poem she wrote that he included on the record.
“It changed the dynamic of our relationship,” he said during an appearance on The Shop: Uninterrupted.
“When she first heard that song she got super defensive… I was in L.A. and she flew out to L.A. and then she left and was like, ‘No’. We talked through it. And then when she flew back to L.A. she had written a poem. She wrote that on the plane. It came with the American Airlines note pad… I was like, ‘You got bars, ma!'”
During the barbershop-style chat with LeBron James and Bad Bunny, Jay Z revealed he still can’t listen to his album 4:44 in its entirety because of its personal nature.
“It’s a lot, but it had to be done,” the rapper said of his last album.
“It was… an evolution of all the things that I’d been through… It was important to write… To be vulnerable in that space after you’ve done all this work… I had so many super gangsta rappers tell me, ‘Thank you for that!’ They would tell me on the side, ‘You saved my relationship’.”
Gloria Carter and her date, Roxanne Wiltshire, posed for a photo at the Shawn Carter Foundation Gala on November 16, 2019.
Jay Z, real name Shawn Corey Carter, and his siblings were raised by their single mom in the Marcy housing project in Brooklyn’s Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood.
His absentee father, Adnis Reeves, reunited with his children just before he died in 2003. That same year, Jay Z and his mother founded The Shawn Carter Foundation, which assists eligible students pay college tuition.