There are probably a million fans who wish they were sitting on the R Train back in October when Jay-Z stepped on the train at the Canal Street stop and sat next to an older woman. The lucky lady, who had no idea who she was sitting next to, sparked up a brief conversation with Jay-z that was captured for his new documentary, “Where I’m From.”
As he took his seat, the 67-year-old woman asked Jay-Z if he was famous and he responded, “Not very famous …you don’t know me. But I’ll get there someday.” He eventually revealed to her that his name was Jay-Z and he was on his way to the Barclays Center to perform. She smiled and told him that she knew who he was and that she was very proud of him for taking the train.
New York Magazine tracked down the lady, and come to find out she’s a well-known visual artist by the name of Ellen Grossman. She says she was just minding her own business when Jay wandered on to the train and at first she thought he was part of a Flash Mob.
“I was on a fairly sparsely populated subway car, and I was sitting in the corner,” she explained. “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.’
“They were filming this one guy that I didn’t recognize, which is why I said, ‘Are you famous?’” she recalled. “As the conversation evolved, I realized, He’s really famous!” So I said, ‘What was your name again?’ When he finally said Jay-Z, it clicked. “I thought about R&B … rap, that music, which I listen to occasionally because I want to be in touch.”
“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,” she gushed. “And I suspect he was always able to do that even before fame. It’s not just directed at younger people. I picked up that feeling, too.”
Her grand kids are definitely jealous.