What Is '4:44's' 'Smile' About? JAY-Z's Mom Is Featured On The Song
There is a lot to unload after listening to JAY-Z's newest album, 4:44, which was released on Friday. Between the lyrics talking about his wife, Beyoncé and their three children, 4:44 has fans listening to the songs over and over again, trying to decode the meaning of the lyrics. Each song is significant, talking about the honest parts of JAY-Z's life, and those wondering what is 4:44's "Smile" about can look no further than to the lyrics — that say everything that needs to be said.
On the surface, "Smile" is about the future and remaining positive. The chorus, as follows, perfectly encapsulates the song's message:
Bad times turn to good memories, smile
Even when I'm gone and you remember me, smile
Even when I'm not with you here today, smile
Good morn' or evening, friends
But when reading deeper into the lyrics, its about more than drinking champagne and smiling through the pain; it's about struggle. The song's lyrics touch on one very important woman in JAY-Z's life, his own mother, Gloria Carter, and the struggles she went through with coming out as a lesbian. In the song's first chorus, JAY-Z raps, "Mama had four kids but she's a lesbian. Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian."
JAY-Z just wants to see his mother happy, which he makes clear in the song's first verse:
Cried tears of joy when you fell in love
Don't matter to me if it's a him or a her
I just wanna see you smile through all the hate
The song's second verse, JAY-Z talks about his own success, although experiencing some hardship in the past. "A loss ain't a loss, it's a lesson," JAY-Z says in the verse. "Appreciate the pain, it's a blessin'." JAY-Z told iHeartRadio that the meaning of "Smile" is exactly what fans will assume the song is about:
"Smile" is just what is is. There are gonna be bad times, and those bad times can do two things: they can get you in a place where you're stuck in a rut or it can make your future that much better because you experienced these things.
JAY-Z's mom, after "pretending for so long" joins her son on the song for the outro, delivering a spoken word poem that touches on coming out and choosing to live freely. "You live two lives, happy but not free," Carter says in the song. "You live in the shadows of someone hurting your family or the person you love. The world is changing and they say it's time to be free. But you live with the fear of just being me."
The song's last words, delivered by Carter, make the song's meaning clear. "But life is short, and it's time to be free. Love who you love because life isn't guaranteed. Smile."