Daryl Simmons, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and L.A. Reid first hooked up with Bobby Brown after they got a call from MCA Records A&R exec Louil Silas. Simmons recalled to Songwriter Universe
"Louil says, 'Hey man, Bobby Brown [has left New Edition], and he's looking to do a record—Y'all need to work with him.' We were like, 'Okay.' At the time, we were working in Silver Lake with this group, The Boys. We'd just done a song called 'Dial My Heart.' So Bobby comes by…I think he had just turned 21. He was full of energy, and we started talking. We [decided to] start working on songs for Bobby.
At the time, Kenny has just gotten his house up in the hills, and it had a guest house. L.A. would work in the studio in the guest house and program drums. Kenny and I couldn't be in the same room because he turned it up so loud. This dude busted so many speakers over our career and drove engineers crazy.
So one day, we hear this beat coming out of the guest house. (He sings 'Boom Boom Taka Boom, Boom Taka Boom, Boom Boom Taka Boom'). And Kenny was like, 'What the hell is that?' So we run in the room and L.A. said, 'I got this beat!' I said, 'Damn…that s--t is nasty! That's already a song by itself!' Kenny said, 'All I got to do is put the right thing on it.' So Kenny went to the bass sizer (creating the bass line). So as you know, Bobby [had the reputation of being] this bad boy, nasty, always in trouble. We said, 'This is Bobby…this is so nasty. This is Cruel…this track is Cruel.' So that's how Kenny came up with Don't Be Cruel as the concept. Then we had to make it make sense. So that's how 'Don't Be Cruel' came about."