Janelle Monáe wrote this song with producers Jeff Bhasker and Emile Haynie for Baz Luhrmann's musical drama series The Get Down. The singer told Beats 1 presenter Ebro Darden how they sampled the Motown tune "Hum Along & Dance," popularized by the Jackson 5.
"The great thing about - 'cause I don't really do a lot of sampling, but they had the rights to the Jackson 5's 'Hum Along And Dance.' So this was a sample I worked with Jeff, I worked with Emile, and we got the sample and once we got in the studio together, we just picked parts that we loved, and that's how we made the music. It was inspired by the Jackson 5, and I just basically put Janelle Monáe on it. But I wanted to keep the essence of Jackson 5. Michael is one of my heroes."
Monáe also revealed how Luhrmann brought her on board to record for the soundtrack.
"I'm friends with Baz Luhrmann, who is just an incredible visionary and director... When he started working on The Get Down he reached out to me immediately, we met, he showed me the trailer and I was just blown away. He has a very unique style. I mean you guys have seen Romeo and Juliet, you've seen Moulin Rouge, and when he mixes hip-hop in that it's so unique and so special and it was just something that I wanted to be a part of."
"Sloop John B" is a traditional West Indian folk song, and it was a huge hit for The Beach Boys in 1966. They tweaked the lyric, "This is the worst trip since I've been born" to "...I've ever been on" as a wink to acid culture.