This song is off Jay-Z’s 2007 album American Gangster. Inspired by the movie of the same name, the album uses the life arc of main character Frank Lucas – the humble beginnings as a drug dealer, the rise, the reign at the top, and the downfall – as a structure through which to tell Jay-Z’s own story

This track is about life at the top, which for both Jay-Z and Frank Lucas is less fun than it first seems. Wealth and success come with their own problems, from the threat of extortionists to a loss of the simple pleasures in life. Nas, who had only recently ended his beef with Jay-Z, appears in a guest verse with the same message.

In Decoded before this song is dissected Jay presents a piece to camera explaining how he can use other artists lyrics with no fear of being labelled a biter.

I’m inspired by music, and I’m a fan and a historian. I study music and different emotions. If I’m inspired by it I’ll use it. It’s not a crutch for me. I can write a song without using anyone’s lyric at all… When you comfortable with yourself and your ability, you don’t have that insecurity when people say ‘You stealing homeboy lyrics’ I could sit down with anybody and write two verses and see who comes up with the better verse, I will come up with it any day.

A defense of his Eminem lyric in the first verse.