The Streets is rapper Mike Skinner. A Grand Don't Come For Free is a concept album in which the narrator loses a lot of money, gets himself a girlfriend, then breaks up with her. This song is the part of the story where his girlfriend breaks up with him.
Coldplay's Chris Martin performed on the original version, but this version was never released. He explains in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "There was this version of it in which I sang the chorus, but I didn't think it was as good as the version where Mike sang the chorus. Then he didn't think that was as good as the version where some other dude sang on the chorus, so neither him nor me sings on the chorus."
Songwriter Michael Gagliano claimed ownership of the string sample that forms the central musical backing of this song. He said it was taken from one of his own compositions, "Yesterday And Today Part 1." Mike Skinner pointed out that the strings came from a public domain sample library and claimed never to have heard Gagliano's track.