Did you happen to see the video that was floating around back in December of Jay-Z talking to an older lady on the subway? It's a really cute clip from October of 2012 when Jay-Z was riding the R train to his last performance at the Barclays Center. The elderly woman (who turned out to be artist Ellen Grossman) didn't recognize him, and sweetly asked if he was famous. The two of them engaged in a wonderfully polite little conversation, during which she congratulated him for taking public transportation.
The whole thing is strangely enjoyable to watch -- who knew Jay-Z was so gentle and well-mannered? -- and now his new fan Ellen Grossman has shared an equally endearing critique of his new studio album Magna Carta Holy Grail.
Before I get to Grossman's somewhat surprising review of Jay-Z's new music, here's the transcript from their encounter on the subway last year:
Ellen: Are you famous?
Jay: Yes. Not very famous, you don't know me.
Ellen: I don't know you, but ...
Jay: But I'll get there some day.
Jay: My name is Jay. What's your name?
Ellen: Ellen. What do you do?
Jay: I make music.
Ellen: Did you just do a performance?
Jay: I'm on my way to the performance at the new Brooklyn arena.
Ellen: Oh, fabulous!
Jay: I performed eight shows, actually ... This is the last show.
Ellen: And you're going by subway?
Ellen: I'm proud of you. Say your name again, just so I get it.
Jay: Jay. Jay-Z
Ellen: Oh, you're Jay-Z! I know about Jay-Z.
Check out the clip:
That video went viral, and Grossman explained that she believed people enjoyed it because we're all typically inundated with negative stories:
I think the world is in the mood for a sweet, old lady.
Grossman ended up becoming a Jay-Z fan after their encounter on the train, even attending his New Year’s Eve concert at Barclays. Here's what she has to say about the music in Magna Carta Holy Grail:
It sounds like he’s really going deep into his heart and into fatherhood and even the meaning of fame. [He’s saying] that the money’s nice, but there’s life beyond that, that he’s exploring. I picked that up from the papers but I felt it in the man too, when I met him. That he had a depth to him. (...) I don’t get all of the words, but I get a lot of them. And I’m really enjoying it. I like jazz and what’s called ‘new music,’ and I can relate to all the soundscapes. It’s really innovative stuff.
On “Part II (On the Run),” which features Beyonce (it's the follow-up to their 2003 duet “03 Bonnie and Clyde"), Grossman says,
It was very sexy. I heard Jay-Z refer to himself as an outlaw, and I think [Beyonce’s]response seemed to be that she would embrace it all. There’s a real connection and real willingness to show their vulnerability. ... It was pretty awesome.
How great is this woman? I love that she not only offered her opinion on his new album, she put some serious thought behind it. It's such unexpected praise coming from an older lady. Hell, I don't even know what "soundscapes" are, but she clearly does. Good for Jay-Z for being so friendly and approachable on that subway, because he's obviously made a new fan for life.
Had you seen the Jay-Z/Ellen Grossman video before? What do you think of her album commentary?
Image via YouTube