This Kanye West-produced number is a track from Jay-Z's 2003 long player, The Black Album. The Brooklyn MC explained in his 2010 book Decoded that the song is about the desire for revenge against the Notorious B.I.G.'s killers. Biggie was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997.
Jay-Z told MTV News about why he felt songs like this needed to be explained years later: "I wanted people to have the proper context of rap, the generation, what we went through, these emotions behind these songs," he explained. "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."
The song samples "I Chase The Devil" by Jamaican reggae artist Max Romeo. British dance act The Prodigy previously sampled the track for their 1992 UK Top Ten hit "Out Of Space."