Jay-Z has made many incredible songs and has a hefty discography full of classics. When the Brooklyn emcee (real name Shawn Carter) first emerged in the mid-1990s, he decided to produce an album yearly. As such, from 1996, Jay-Z released a project a year until 2003, when he released his eighth studio album, The Black Album.
Behind every project and song is a story. Whether it’s his own journey or someone else’s, there’s been a profound source of inspiration that Carter has tapped into over the years, and this is true for The Black Album.
The body of work saw the Roc-A-Fella magnate dig deep to find stories he could draw from. During the making of the 2003 project, Carter invited a film crew to record his creative process and see how he drew upon personal experiences to shape his tracks.
The 2003 album saw contributions from the likes of Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Just Blaze and even Kanye West, who produced Carter’s iconic single ‘Lucifer.’ To create the legendary beat of the song, West sampled the 1976 anthem ‘I Chase The Devil’ by Jamaican reggae artist Max Romeo.
The track has been sampled many times, including for the 1992 Prodigy hit ‘Out Of Space.’ However, West chose to centre his beat around a specific line in the track, when listeners hear Romeo sing, “Lucifer, son of the morning / I’m gonna chase you out of Earth”
The catchy yet simple melody inspired Carter in a profound way, and he quickly wrote what ended up becoming a classic. One of the most memorable lines from the track is Jay-Z’s infamous “I’m from the murder capital / Wher we murder for capital.”
In an interview with MTV News, the rapper explained he wanted to provide fans with an insight into what drives people like himself, stating, “I wanted people to have the proper context of rap, the generation, what we went through, these emotions behind these songs.”
He continued, “A song like ‘Lucifer’ it’s really about the struggle and really about dealing with death and having that feeling. The evil is inside of you, not this mythical character with pitchforks and things like that. Dealing with a feeling of wanting revenge.”
You can listen to the iconic track below.