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Jay-Z says he cried with joy when his mom came out to him as lesbian

Jay-Z on "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman."

Adam Rose/Netflix

Jay-Z might be known for his tough guy image, but the rapper says he cried tears of joy when his mother, Gloria Carter, came out to him as lesbian. In an episode of Netflix's "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman," Jay-Z says of the moment, "I really cried. That's a real story. I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free."

The "4:44" artist talked about the track "Smile," in which he raps, "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 want to see you smile through all the hate." His mother also performs, saying, "Living in the shadow. Can you imagine what kind of life it is to live? 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."

Jay-Z said his mother first opened up to him about it while he was working on his album eight months ago.

"I made the song the next day," he said. "I knew. But this was the first time we had the conversation. And the first time I heard her say she loved her partner. Like, 'I feel like I love somebody.' She said, 'I feel like.' She held that little bit back, still. She didn't say, 'I'm in love.' She said, 'I feel like I love someone.'" 

"And I just, I cried," he said. "I don't even believe in crying because you're happy. I don't even know what that is. What is that?"

Jay-Z said he knew his mother was gay, but they only talked about it eight months ago. He added that his mother felt like she could not come out because she did not want to embarrass her children.

Jay-Z's episode airs Friday on Netflix.

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