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Woman doesn't recognize Jay-Z during subway ride

Passenger Ellen Grossman and Jay Z talking to

Passenger Ellen Grossman and Jay Z talking to each other on a recent subway ride. Credit: Handout

A 67-year-old artist who didn't immediately recognize Jay-Z -- her fellow subway passenger -- has become the breakout star of the rapper's mini-documentary "Where I'm From." The short film chronicles Jay-Z's recent Barclays Center concerts.

A 50-second clip showing the encounter between Jay and gray-haired Ellen Grossman went viral Wednesday and became a hot topic in the blogosphere.

"Are you famous?" Grossman asks Jay-Z as he sits next to her amid a surge of people, including his bodyguards, that boarded the R train at Canal Street on Oct. 6, the day of his eighth and final show.

"Yes," he responds in the subtitled video, adding, with a smile, "Not very famous; you don't know me. But I'll get there someday." He then tells the beaming and equally amused Grossman, "My name is Jay," and asks for her name. The artist and sculptor shakes his hand and tells him, "Ellen," and then asks what he does.

"I make music," he says. "I'm on my way to the performance in Brooklyn. At the new Brooklyn arena."

"Fabulous," she answers. She eventually asks him his name again and he tells her, "Jay. Jay-Z."

"Oh, you're Jay-Z! I know about Jay-Z!" Grossman says as the clip ends.

Grossman -- born in Brooklyn but raised on Long Island from age 5, and now residing in the East Village -- became an instant mini-star who has since spoken with newspapers from here to London. "It was just a wonderful conversation," she told the UK newspaper The Guardian. "He's very real. He didn't seem disturbed that I didn't understand who he was; he's not full of himself."

"Amazing, amazing footage of Jay-Z talking to an old lady who doesn't know who he is," music mogul Russell Simmons tweeted.

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