Jay-Z’s Elderly Train Mate Holds Court on ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’

Craig Rosen
Stop The Presses! (NEW)

There's good news for aging amateur music critics. There seems to be new interest in your opinions on the latest hip-hop releases — as long as you have some notoriety.

First there was 71-year-old Lou Reed reviewing Kanye West's Yeezus. Now Ellen Grossman, Jay-Z's onetime R train mate, is holding court on Hova's new Magna Carta Holy Grail.

The 67-year-old Grossman gained notoriety when Jay sat next to her as he rode the R train to Brooklyn's Barclay's Center for his final gig there last year. The chance encounter was captured in the documentary Where I'm From.

Now MTV News caught up with Grossman and asked her to give a listen to Jay's latest. Although she admitted she might not be able to catch every rhyme, but she's done her homework on the album. "It sounds like he's going deep into his heart and into fatherhood and even the meaning of fame," she said. He's rapping "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 depth to him."

Like Lou Reed, Grossman is also an artist, but she dabbles in visual arts, rather than hip-hop. Still, she seems to understand Hova's vibe. "I don't get all of the words but I get a lot of them and I'm really enjoying it," she said. "I like jazz and what's called 'new music' and I can relate to all the soundscapes, it's really innovative stuff."

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Grossman offered MTV specifics on a few tracks, including "Holy Grail," featuring Justin Timberlake. She was hip enough to realize that Jay is referencing Kurt Cobain on the track and observes the he's implying that "'fame has its price.' And even someone very famous and rich is capable of suicide. It really hit you hard and the soundscape was just exquisite, so it was pretty amazing."

"BBC," featuring Nas, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, and Pharrell, almost had her shaking her groove thing. "I kinda wanted to [dance] but I'm not a good dancer even sitting down so I kinda held myself back," she said.

As for "Part II (On the Run)" featuring Beyonce, the senior citizen said, "It was very sexy." Grossman said she suspected the power couple would like to keep their private lives private. "What they're putting out in their art is really opening themselves up," she added. "It was pretty awesome."

So is Ellen Grossman. Now if someone can just get her together with Lou Reed to debate who's a better rapper — Jay-Z or Kanye — our life will be complete.

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