JAY-Z Details His Mother's Coming Out Story to David Letterman: 'I Was So Happy She Was Free'

On his critically-acclaimed album 4:44, rap superstar JAY-Z’s mother revealed to the world that she was a lesbian. In the song “Smile,” Gloria Carter delivered a beautiful speech regarding what it was like for her to live a lie.

“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,” she said, with JAY-Z rapping earlier in the song, "Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian/ Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian.”

Now, in a recent interview with David Letterman for his Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, JAY-Z opened up about his mother’s coming out experience, and how it impacted him to see her be honest with herself.

“For her to sit in front of me and tell me 'I think I love someone' … I really cried," the rapper said. “I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free."

Jay explained that his mother officially came out to him while he was working on 4:44, and he was so inspired by the moment that he wrote “Smile” the next day. But the star added that he knew about her sexuality before she spoke to him. “I knew, but this was the first time we had the conversation,” he said. “This was the first time I heard her say that she loved her partner.”

He added that he was dumbstruck by his own emotions in the moment. “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 full interview with David Letterman on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction will be available April 7 on Netflix.