In part two of JAY-Z‘s Rap Radar interview promoting his new album 4:44, the rapper delved deeper into the making of the LP and revealed his mother originally didn’t want her story shared on “Smile.” He also discussed why he’s “checked out” of rap beefs and how he made amends with Fat Joe, Jim Jones and Prodigy of Mobb Deep over the years.
“Smile” was one of many standout tracks from Hov’s 13th studio album and found the rapper opening up about his mother’s sexuality on lines like, “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.” Although the rapper’s mother, Gloria Carter, graced the final track with a spoken word outro, Hov revealed she initially wasn’t in favor of “Smile” but after convincing her of its importance, she gave him her blessing.
“When she first heard the song she was like ‘absolutely not,’ and I was like, ‘Man, this is so important like [there’s] so many people in the world hiding and this will help you,'” he told the podcast hosts. “I was just so happy [to see] the person she’s becoming. Just live your life, be who you are, [it’s] one of my proudest songs.”
Gloria Carter wasn’t the only family feature on the album (besides Beyonce, of course) and on a bonus track for the album titled “Blue’s Freestyle/We Family”, JAY-Z’s daughter Blue Ivy stepped into the booth and unleashed a barrage of “Boom shakalaka’s” for her short freestyle. “So I start playing the beat and I was playing it so long and then I started doing something and she went and she got the headphones and she climbed on the little stool and she just started rapping,” Hov said, although the official song featured just a snippet of Blue’s five-minute long lyrical attack. “I was like, ‘Oh she understands the concept of a hook; she’s five.'”
At the climax of the interview, the “Moonlight” rapper reflected on his now-settled feuds with rappers like Fat Joe and Jim Jones, disagreements he says could’ve easily been resolved with a simple conversation.
“It wasn’t even like a big thing between Fat Joe and I, we just really talked about that in two minutes,” Hov offered. “I don’t want to have rap beef, I’m checked out of that part of the game.”
The feud reportedly began back in the early 2000s and was caused by a number of incidents including a basketball game between Joe’s team and Hov’s team (scheduling conflicts caused Hov’s team to forfeit) and Joe siding with Nas during the infamous Nas vs. JAY-Z beef.
One feud he was unable to officially settle was with Prodigy, who had suffered from sickle cell anemia for much of his life and recently passed away.
“I had super respect for Prodigy. In order for me to really have a problem, in order for me to really spar with you, I gotta respect you somewhere,” he said. “It’s just sad you know, blessings to his family.”
Watch part two of JAY-Z’s Rap Radar interview via Tidal here.