Jay Z's Mom Opens Up About Her Powerful Outro on "Smile"

Gloria Carter opens up about her contributions to Jay's new '4:44' album.

Jay Z and mother
Image via Getty/Jamie McCarthy

Jay-Z poses with his mother, Gloria Carter during an evening of 'Making The Ordinary Extraordinary' hosted by The Shawn Carter Foundation at Pier 54 on September 29, 2011 in New York City.

Jay Z and mother

Gloria Carter, Jay Z's mother, is speaking out about her involvement in her son's 4:44 track "Smile." During a recent appearance on the D'USSE Friday podcast, Carter opened up about how Jay's lyrics came together, as well as her eventual decision to pen a last-minute poem for inclusion.

"Me and my son, we share a lot of information," Carter said around the 24:40 mark of the sit-down chat with Brian Axelrod, Hov's nephew Rel Carter, and Roc Nation's Nashawn Carter. "So I was sitting there and I was telling him one day. I just finally started telling him who I was. Besides your mother, this is the person that I am, you know? This is the life that I lived. So my son started actually, like, tearing because he was like, 'That had to be a horrible life, ma.' I was like, 'My life was never horrible. It was just different.' So that made him want to do a song about it."


Initially, Gloria wasn't feeling Jay's resulting song. "We talked about it and we talked about it," she said. "Then I was going out to see him, and I was on the plane, and I was like, ok, I'm going to help him. If we're going to do it. I wrote [the poem] while I was on the plane going to LA. When I got there, I was like, 'Yo, I'm going to help you along.' So I gave him this. So I said 'look at this' and he was like, 'Wow, you wrote this on the plane?'" When Jay asked her to read the poem over the phone, he recorded it.

Later in the interview, Gloria Carter opened up the impact of "Smile" on her personal life. "I don't have to worry about anyone wondering whether I'm in the life or not," she said. "I'm gonna tell them. So now that I've told you what do you have to talk about? So now maybe you can focus on the phenomenal things that I do. So focus on that."

Listen to the full episode of the D'USSE Friday podcast below:


Gloria's "Smile" outro—particularly the line "Love who you love, because life isn't guaranteed"—was praised by GLAAD shortly after 4:44's release. "Lesbian women are all too often erased or excluded from narratives surrounding LGBTQ people," GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement in June. "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."

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