Jay Z revealed his mother is a lesbian on his new album 4:44.
The superstar made the revelation about Gloria Carter in the lyrics to the soulful track Smile.
Jay-Z, who recently became the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, infuses the album with touches of house music and reggae, giving a sleeker, contemporary sound to the artist whose later albums had veered into mainstream pop.
On the soulful “Smile,” Jay-Z for the first time confirms hushed rumors that his mother is lesbian, explaining how she turned to substances to cope with the stigma.
“Mama had four kids but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long, that she’s a thespian,” raps Jay-Z, who has spoken of how his father’s absence contributed to his troubled youth in public housing in Brooklyn.
“Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her / I just want to see you smile through all the hate,” he raps.
“Smile” opens with a snippet from Stevie Wonder and closes with a poem by Jay-Z’s mother, Gloria Carter, who recites, “The world is changing and they say it’s time to be free / But you live with the fear of just being me.”
Jay-Z, like many rappers of his generation, employed homophobic slurs in his early music but was also one of the first prominent voices in hip-hop to speak out in favor of gay rights.