Besides young Blue Ivy Carter's standout performance, Gloria Carter steals the show on JAY-Z's critically-acclaimed 13th studio album, 4:44.
On "Smile," a highlight that interpolates Stevie Wonder's "Love's In Need Of Love Today," Jay famously raps, "Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian/ Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian." By the end of the song, Carter delivers an enlightening poem about freedom of self. In a new interview on the D'ussé Friday podcast this week, Carter revealed her initial hesitation about revealing her story on the record.
"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."
After listening to the song, Carter said she was wary of appearing on it because she didn't feel ready to share her story with the public. It wasn't until a plane trip to meet Jay that she changed her mind and felt the urge to appear on the song to perform the poem, titled "Living in the Shadows."
"I was never ashamed of me, but my family, it was something that was never discussed," she admitted. "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."
Jay recently appeared on the Rap Radar Podcast and revealed this story as well as Ms. Carter's trepidation. "When she first heard the song, she was like, 'absolutely not,'" Jay told the podcast hosts last month. "And I was like, 'Man, this is so important.' So many people in the world hiding and things like this and this will help you. That's how we spoke about that song. I was just so happy at the person she became, it's one of my proudest songs."
In related JAY-Z news, the full two-part interview with Rap Radar has been released on YouTube.