Jay-Z was so moved by his mother’s coming out that he wrote a song about it, “Smile,” for his most recent album, 4:44. Now he’s opening up even more about their relationship in an interview for David Letterman’s Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.
Sitting down with Letterman for the April 6 episode of the streaming series, the 48-year-old rapper reflected on the fact that his mother, Gloria Carter, felt like she had to hide her sexual identity for so long.
“Imagine having lived your life for someone else,” he said. “And you think you’re protecting your kids. And for my mother to have to live as someone that she wasn’t and hide and, like, protect her kids and didn’t want to embarrass her kids and, you know, for all this time. For her to sit in front of me and tell me, ‘I think I love someone,’ I mean, I really cried. That’s a real story. I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free.”
He noted that this occurred fairly recently, telling Letterman, “This happened eight months ago, when the album was being made. Like, she just told me. I made the song the next day.”
When Letterman asked if this was the moment that Jay-Z learned his mother was gay, the rapper clarified, “No, I knew. But this was the first time we had the conversation. And the first time I heard her say she loved her partner. Like, ‘I feel like I love somebody.'”
Even saying those words, though, she was still hesitant. “She said, ‘I feel like.’ She held that little bit back, still. She didn’t say, ‘I’m in love.’ She said, ‘I feel like I love someone.’ And I just, I cried. I don’t even believe in crying because you’re happy. I don’t even know what that is. What is that?”
Jay-Z’s interview on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction begins streaming on Netflix on Friday, April 6.
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(photo via Joe Pugliese/Netflix)