This is a new Jay we’re seeing for the first time ever with 4:44. He’s baring his soul on the whole album! On the track titled “smile”, he took a page from Kevin Hart’s cousin Al, as he quickly rapped “Mama had 4 kids she’s a lesbian/had to pretend so long she’s a thespian/had to hide in the closet so she medicate/ society pain and the shame was too much to take”. I was floored! I couldn’t believe he just said what he just said as if he was rapping about Ace of Spades and am I the only one that noticed these bars?!!! Everybody seems to be caught up with the Kanye jabs and the money to the ear joint. Smile is a deep and touching song where he raps about how happy he is to see his mom find love again, coming out and how he was connecting with how hard it must have been to live in the closet or how Mrs Carter puts it, “in the shadows”. The shadows, that’s how Mrs. Carter felt she was living all these years. We tend not to look in the shadows nor do we care to walk into the dark. When I think about people moving in the shadows, the first thing that comes to mind is some kind of underworld filled with seedy people. I can’t imagine my mother (R.i.p) having to live her life-like this let alone the mother of Jay Z, I can’t imagine my kids being afraid to live and smile, and I can’t imagine them living in fear that’s rooted in society’s crappy rules. The part of the song that really pulled at my heart-strings was Gloria Carter’s poem at the end. In her poem she talks about coming out of the shadows and being able to live and love freely in the light. In the shadows you’re always fronting with a smile or let people see what you want them to see while living a double life she says. Hov and his mother performed over a Stevie Wonder sample “Love’s in Need of Love Today”, a fitting song because the title and the hook says it all. “Love’s in Need,of a love today/don’t delay, send yours in right away/ hate is going around, breaking many hearts/ stop it please, before it’s gone too far”. GOT DAMN I LOVE GREAT LYRICS!!! At the very end of the song I can feel Ms Gloria finally able to Smile for real.
I guess at the end of the day you have to live and love for you and like Gloria Carter said in her touching poem, love who you love because life has no guarantees . If 2Pac and Kevin Hart can open up about the harsh realities of their parents addictions, maybe they found enough strength to live their truths. I know it’s not the same thing but nonetheless Gloria’s an older woman who finally gets to be free to live her life openly without fear of embarrassing her family or someone hurting the ones she loves. That’s got to be a hell of a feeling.