Vocalist Josh Todd explained the song's lyrical content: "I had real issues with authority figures growing up. I wanted to write about the authority figures in my life who told me I'd never amount to anything. It's a big 'f--k you' to all those people."
"Lean On" was originally sent by Major Lazer to both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj's camps as a slower reggae track. After both parties rejected the tune, Major Lazer recruited Danish singer MØ to supply vocals and recorded it themselves.