De La Soul's Posdnuos wrote this anti-crack narrative out of anger from his own older brothers' problems with drugs. The song is basically a true story but one detail is changed from real life: Unlike the track's subject, Posdnous' sibling went into rehab. He explained to Melody Maker: "Basehead is slang for someone who freebases or smokes crack. When he was basin', I had strong feelings about it."
"Some people might have thought it was too personal for them to write about, but I really didn't care," Posdnous added. "It helped get it off my chest, plus I thought a lot of people could identify with it and it could help people. Word by word, it's not following what actually happened, but it's close. It relates how we grew up together and how his downfall began."