Ahead of it’s air date on Friday, April 6, Netflix has been releasing clips of an episode of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction that features an interview with Jay-Z. The first clip released shows Jay-Z discussing qualities of a good rapper, mentioning Eminem and Snoop Dogg’s respective talents to illustrate his point. You can see that clip here.
The most recent clip shows Jay-Z discussing a much more sensitive topic: how his mother recently came out as a lesbian. In the interview, Jay-Z notes that he had already known that his mother, Gloria Carter, was lesbian, but that it wasn’t until eight months ago that she had her first conversation about it with him. Jay describes the situation to Letterman in the interview:
“Imagine having lived your life for someone else. 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… And for her to sit in front of me and tell me ‘I think I love someone,’ I mean, I really cried… I cried because I was so happy that she was free.”
Jay-Z says he wrote the song “Smile”, which appeared on his most recent album 4:44, the day after he and his mother had that conversation. In the song, Jay dedicates half a verse to describing his mother’s sexuality:
”Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian
Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian
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
I just wanna see you smile through all the hate
Marie Antoinette, baby, let ’em eat cake”
The song ends with a poem written by Gloria Carter herself, where she talks about how she used to “live in the shadows” out of fear of hurting her family or someone she loved, much like what Jay-Z described to Letterman.
Jay’s interview isn’t the first we’ve heard of Gloria Carter’s homosexuality or the fact that Jay-Z has shed a few tears for her. On September 5, 2017, an episode of the D’USSE Friday podcast was posted that featured an interview with Gloria Carter. In the podcast, she talks about coming out to her son, Jay-Z. She describes the conversation a little differently than Jay did, implying that he cried about the fact she had been closeted for so long, rather than the fact that she let him know she was in love, a detail that she didn’t bring up in the interview. Check out the podcast below, where the topic comes up around the 26 minute mark.
She did note that she wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about the song “Smile” at first because of how it was publicizing private details of her personal life. She eventually came around in support of it, and says she wrote the poem that closes the track on the plane ride to visit Jay. Although she states that it’s no one’s business who she shares her life with, she said that she wasn’t aware of the impact she would have for participating in the way she did. She says that she had many people calling her to thank her for representing them, something she wasn’t expecting when she first got involved.
Keep an eye out for Jay’s full interview with Letterman this Friday on Netflix.