While Jay-Z was a guest on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Lettermanhe opened up about his emotional reaction to his mother, Gloria Carter, coming out.

Last year on his latest album 4:44, Jay-Z wrote a song called “Smile” which focused on how he knew that his mom’s secret before she told him. Her voice is even featured on the song, in spoken word she says, “The world is changing and they say it’s time to be free. But you live with the fear of just being me. . . But life is short, and it’s time to be free. Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed.”

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The rapper shared that she only just came out to him about eight months ago, right before he recorded “Smile.” “This was the first time we had the conversation, and the first time I heard her say she loved her partner,” Jay-Z told Letterman. “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. I don’t even believe in crying because you’re happy. I don’t even know what that is.”

He then explains that she felt like she was protecting her kids by keeping her sexuality a secret, but ultimately not living up to be her true self. “Imagine having lived your life as someone else,” Jay-Z said. “And you think you’re protecting your kids. And for my mother to have to live as someone that she wasn’t and hide and like protect her kids, and didn’t want to embarrass her kids.”

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He then reflects on the time she finally told her, and how happy it made him because that meant she was free to express herself and be who she was hiding all these years. “For her to sit in front of me and tell me, ‘I think I love someone.’ I mean, I really cried,” he said said. “That’s a real story. I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free.”

Jay-Z’s full interview on the My Next Guest Needs No Introduction will premiere this Friday on Netflix.

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