By Carolyn Amurao
It’s not every day that Jay-Z gets on the R train, sits next to a random person and introduces himself. But that’s what he did on the day of his final concert at the Barclay’s Center, giving Ellen Grossman a starring role in his new documentary “Where I’m From.“
“Are you famous?” the 67-year-old asked the legendary rapper, who got on the train with a camera crew and mob of fans. He replied, “Yes. Not very famous, you don’t know me.”
Grossman continued to smile widely as her fellow subway rider introduced himself simply as “Jay,” explaining that he “makes music” and was on his way to perform. After she asked him to repeat his name, she exclaimed, “Oh, you’re Jay-Z! I know about Jay-Z!” The Brooklyn native said that she occasionally listens to rap music because she wants to be “in touch.” Other rappers she’s familiar with include LL Cool J and Ice Cube. “It’s old stuff,” she said in an interview with Daily Intel.
Her encounter with the hip-hop star is featured near the end of the mini documentary, which provides behind-the-scenes access to the creation of Hov’s opening concerts at the Brooklyn Arena. When asked about her experience, Grossman said, “I loved it! It was very energizing talking to Jay-Z. Just who he is, not having to do with all the cameras, but he really, genuinely spreads an aura of empowerment around him.”
But, at first she thought something might’ve gone wrong. “I was on a fairly sparsely populated subway car, and I was sitting in the corner,” she said. “At Canal Street, a surge of people got on, and since my son was in the buildings on 9/11, my first reaction was that there had been a disaster upstairs. But everyone was laughing and smiling. My second reaction was, ‘Oh there’s a flash mob.’
So, what’s life like now that her memorable meeting has been unleashed on the internet? All her friends are Facebooking her and she’s made her 12-year-old granddaughter quite jealous. “I wish I could hang out with Jay-Z too,” she said. Our feelings exactly.