Frontman Tunde Adebimpe shares the band's lyric writing with guitarist Kyp Malone. Adebimpe told The Independent November 3, 2008 that his lyrics are a form of meditation. He explained: "It sounds simplistic but what I write is based on a life experience, filtered through a process. You could write a story that says I was surfing the web, got sick of myself and so I went to a bar; and then I got sick of the people there and hated them as much as I hated myself; so I went home and fell asleep disgusted with myself. 'Dancing Choose' in many ways is that song. It is an extract with lines thrown together that hopefully works as well as a poem does, and gives enough of a description of a scene."
"It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" was inspired by a dream where Michael Stipe conjured up images of people with the initials L.B.: Lester Bangs, Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Leonard Bernstein.
"Cleveland Rocks" was written by an Englishman. Ian Hunter wrote the song after touring America in the late '70s and finding that Cleveland was by far the most receptive city to his brand of Glam Rock.