Kiedis wanted the video to be visually distinct and readily identifiable but disliked much of the material Warner Bros.
Instead of giving material possessions away and being free thinking, the vocalist believed one must take what one wants, as no one else will provide.
Instead, he now adopted Hagen's philosophy: "It was such an epiphany that someone would want to give me her favorite thing. Every time I'd be thinking 'I have to keep,' I'd remember 'No, you gotta give away instead.' When I started going regularly to [drug and alcohol] meetings, one of the principles I had learned was that the way to maintain your own sobriety is to give it to another suffering alcoholic.
Producer Rick Rubin had a considerable influence on the sound of Blood Sugar Sex Magik by removing much of the reverb and guitar layering that epitomized the band's previous album Mother's Milk.
This caused the record to contain simpler and dryer guitar and bass chords that were not filtered through guitar effects—those that did, however, were made with vintage electronics from the 1960s and 70s.
Hagen was several years Kiedis' senior and became a role-model during his drug addiction to heroin: "she realized how young and inexperienced I was then, so she was always passing on gems to me, not in a preachy way, just by seizing on opportunities." Upon expressing this, Hagen immediately told him to keep it.
Her reasoning behind this selflessness was due to an attempt to constantly make her life more enjoyable, and explained to Kiedis that "if you have a closet full of clothes and you try to keep them all, your life will get very small.
In 1992 the single charted inside the top 75 of the US Hot 100 in the wake of the huge success of the record's second single "Under the Bridge". The phrase had been something the vocalist intended to incorporate into a song for the band's new record, but it was not until he heard the bassline that the lyrics fit.
"Give It Away" also became the band's first top ten hit in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number nine on the UK Singles Chart; this didn't occur until February 1994, nearly 2 and a half years after it was first released in the US. During their tenure in the group, the guitarist and bassist created the main riff and accompanying bassline for "Give It Away". Kiedis said, "I was so struck by Flea's bass part, which covered the whole length of the instrument's neck, that I jumped up and marched over to the mic, my notebook in tow.
And that was it." The song continues through several verses and choruses before reaching a bridge that introduces the outro, which consists of "a hard-rocking riff" that, according to Huey, strongly resembles the main riff from Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" from their 1971 record Master of Reality.