T.I. explained in an interview from jail on MTV's RapFix Live the reason he chose to collaborate with Chris Brown on this tune. "We were thinking, 'Who else could we get to be on this record ... of such importance? Who else has a significant story to tell of triumph from tragedy?' " he recalled. "I was like, 'Chris. Let's see if Chris can do it.' I reached out to Chris, and he did it."
Tip added that the reaction to the track was strong from the beginning. "Immediately, as soon as we heard it, everybody who heard it first listen is like, 'That's something special,' " he described. "It's not nothing that you hear every day on radio; it's not your average, typical T.I. record. It's a message, and it's two guys who have been through something, who have had the world turn their backs on them."
T.I. and Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes were recording for No Mercy before Tip got arrested prior to his second stint in jail. He told RapFix Live: "Prior to my arrest, we had done about three or four songs, considerably hot records, some of which you'll definitely be hearing on this project. But ... I left out the studio, and the next day, I go to jail, or I get arrested, which took me in a whole 'nother, different direction.
When all of these things started coming to pass, Pharrell called me like, 'Hey, man, somebody somewhere is trying to tell you something,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, you know, that may be,' " Tip continued. "Then we had a conversation at length about how I felt about the media's portrayal of my circumstances. And he said, 'You know what? That's what you need to say in a song.' And I say, 'Man, I ain't talking about no music right now, P.' And he say, 'But that's what they wanna hear, that's what you need to tell 'em. Just ride with me on this. I'mma get it to you, and I just need you to get those same sentiments, those same feelings on a record.' I said, 'All right, man, give it to me.'"
Within ten days or so, Pharrell had crafted a beat perfect for what the Atlanta MC wanted to say. "So it might've been a week or two later, he called me and it might've been at 4 o'clock in the morning, like, 'I got it!' " T.I. recalled. "I immediately heard the potential, I immediately heard that this was a special record, a personal record, a statement record ... and one that could be delivered with humility and not as defensive as it may sound in conversation if I said it."