Jay-Z chatted up Ellen Grossman last year on a New York subway as he rode to Brooklyn for a concert at the Barclay's Center and at the time, she wasn't really aware that she was in the presence of hip-hop royalty.
Now that he's dropped Magna Carta Holy Grail, the 67-year-old visual artist took a break from her work to offer up her thoughts on H.O.V.A's latest opus.
So what did she think?
After taking in Jay-Z's New Year's Eve concert at Barclays six months ago and getting up to speed on his storied career and music, Grossman confessed she couldn't make out every rhyme but did get a good sense of the spiritual and family themes dominating the album, which has so far received mixed reviews.
"It sounds like he's really going deep into his heart and into fatherhood and even the meaning of fame," Grossman told MTV News after giving it a first listen. "[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."
Video of her December encounter with the rapper on the R train as he headed to the Barclays Center for the last of his eight concerts there became a viral sensation as it captured Grossman and the MC engrossed in deep conversation. The intimate moment also ended up in a 24-minute documentary Jay-Z posted online.
As someone who draws and does sculpture for a living, Grossman added that she could appreciate the hip-hopster's sonic aspirations on Magna Carta.
"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," said Grossman.
Jay-Z's newest fan also singled out a few tracks for praise, among them "Holy Grail" featuring Justin Timberlake, calling it "exquisite" and "pretty amazing," for his willingness to ponder the price of fame by referencing Kurt Cobain's suicide.
Ellen had nothing but good things to say as well about "Part II (On the Run)" featuring Beyoncé a sequel to the couple's 2003 ditty "03 Bonnie and Clyde."
"It was very sexy. I heard Jay-Z refer to himself as an outlaw and I think [Bey's] response seemed to be that she would embrace it all," Grossman added. "There's a real connection and real willingness to show their vulnerability…It was pretty awesome."