With his highly anticipated 13th album 4:44 hitting airwaves on June 30, JAY-Z fans have been eager to get a closer glimpse into the rapper's private life. After making a cameo appearance on the hip-hop mogul's track "Smile," listeners must be wondering who JAY-Z's mom, Gloria Carter, is.
Over the years, JAY-Z has been pretty private about his personal life, especially when it comes to his family. However, in his latest offering, the rapper seems to open up about his mother's sexual identity for the first time, revealing that she's lesbian. In the song "Smile," which features spoken word from his mother, the entertainer raps,
"Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian
Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian”
He continues gushing about his mother's happiness and discusses the pain that some people face when they feel shamed by society because of their sexual identities.
“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”
Then, Gloria closes the track with a powerful spoken word performance. The philanthropist recites,
"Living in the shadow
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"
In response to Gloria's lyrics, GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, released a touching statement. "Lesbian women are all too often erased or excluded from narratives surrounding LGBTQ people," Ellis 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.”
Although this may be the most personal contribution to come from Gloria to date, this isn't quite the first time we've heard from her. As most fans may remember, she was also featured on track entitled "December 4th" from JAY-Z's 2003 The Black Album.
However, making cameos on her son's albums is not her only forte. The author and philanthropist, who co-founded The Shawn Carter foundation with JAY-Z, also works within the community helping to educate the youth and provide them with scholarships for college. In the decade since the foundation's inception, Essence reports that Gloria has helped to raise over $4 million to provide initiatives that for students who wish to pursue higher education.
Throughout his music, JAY-Z has often discussed the struggle of growing up in the drug-infested projects, while being raised by his single mother. He often details how he began to sell drugs in order to make ends meet, with Us Weekly detailing how his mother was forced to look the other way as she struggled to raise her four children.
With his new success, JAY has successfully managed to turn rags to riches for himself and his entire family. So it's safe to say that Gloria Carter has a whole lot to smile about these days.