Over the 36-minute run time of 4:44, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s 13th studio album, fans learn intimate details about the Carter family’s history, just as they have over most of Jay’s catalog.
The Brooklyn-raised emcee offers yet another vivid look at his Bed-Stuy roots on “Marcy Me” and almost every member of his extended family gets a shout-out on “Legacy.”
But no Carter family member’s life is painted in more careful, glowing detail than that of Gloria, Jay-Z’s mother.
She’s featured on “Smile,” duetting with her son about finding hope in dark times. It’s where she, later in life, comes out as a lesbian, letting her son confirm the news publicly in the song’s first verse:
These people are making money mocking black American culture and creating the next generation of racists… There is too much history of white folks making $ from black ideas/culture while still punishing black people for that very same culture. But black culture is not American culture. Black people aren’t included in traditional American narratives, but when someone wants to make money, “We’re all Americans.”…