This song was produced by Taz Arnold with Top Dog Entertainment's in-house producer Sounwave and Terrace Martin. Sounwave told Spin about Taz Arnold: "He's another amazing producer who we just vibed out with in the studio," he explained. "We went to his studio and took so many of his amazing records. At one point, we had way too many of his records, and every song we were making started to sound like 'For Sale,' and we thought, 'We can't go this route all the way.'"
Lamar's rhymes for the track are about temptation in the shadow of fame. Sounwave said: "'For Sale (Interlude)' it's my favorite song because no one else would do a song like that. Kendrick's talking about the devil, he's talking about selling his soul, he's fighting it; it just feels like this roller coaster of these great, mad emotions, and it was executed perfectly."
" producer Flying Lotus also supplied this song's original beat, but it was ultimately discarded, with Lamar favoring Taz Arnold's version of the song, Sounwave said: "The whole thing was originally a Flying Lotus track that Kendrick made his lyrics to, but we lifted so many of his things for the album, by the time we got back to this track, the sound was changing."
Dealing with fame is the principle theme of To Pimp a Butterfly. Speaking to Mass Appeal magazine, Lamar explained: "This album is more about deciding what you're gonna do with your fame and your fortune."
"[Is it] for negative or for positive reasons? When you look at the first half of the album, it's really me trying to figure it out, y'know? [I'm being] flamboyant, boastin', being vengeful in certain places," he continued. "Then going down that line of saying, 'OK, I can do something better with it.' So I don't think it only resonates with blacks, but with people all around the world, man, that can respect the idea of going through a journey or a rebellion, and figuring it out."
This song offers an insight into the figure of Lucy (a character representing Lucifer) who also features elsewhere on To Pimp A Butterfly. "Lucy is all the [things] that I was thinking of that I know can be detrimental to not only me but the people around me, and still be tempted by them," Lamar explained to The Guardian. "That's some scary s--t. It's like looking at a bullet inside of a gun, knowing you can kill yourself with it, but you're still picking it up and playing with it."
Asked what kind of things, he replied: "Everything that we glorified in the hood – smoking, drinking, women, violence – was at my feet times 10. All of it's there. In the neighborhood we wanted to have power and with success comes power. That is temptation at its highest."