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Man Down (song)

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For the TV series, see Man Down (TV series). For the upcoming film, see Man Down (film).
"Man Down"
Single by Rihanna
from the album Loud
Released May 3, 2011 (2011-05-03)
Format Digital download
Recorded 2010; The Village, Westlake Recording Studios (Los Angeles)
Length 4:28
Rihanna singles chronology
"Man Down"
"California King Bed"

"Man Down" is a song performed by Barbadian recording artist Rihanna, taken from her fifth studio album Loud (2010). The song was sent to US rhythmic and urban radios on May 3, 2011 and was released as the album's sixth single in the United States as well as in certain countries internationally on July 11, 2011. The song was written by Shama "Sak Pase" Joseph, Timothy & Theron Thomas, and Shontelle Layne, with production completed by Joseph.

"Man Down" received positive reviews from music critics, with many calling it a comeback of Rihanna's Caribbean-tinged rhythm. In the US, despite only being released to rhythmic and urban radios, the song peaked at number 59 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number nine on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In France, the song went number one, whilst reaching the top twenty in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and on the UK R&B Chart. The music video, directed by longtime collaborator Anthony Mandler, sees Rihanna shooting a man after being attacked, singing how she regrets her actions. Due to the violent nature of the video, The Parents Television Council criticized the singer and attempted to ban the video with no success. "Man Down" is included on the set-list of Rihanna's 2011 Loud Tour and 2013 Diamonds World Tour.

Recording and release[edit]

A man wearing a black suit and white converse trainers.
Rihanna's vocals on "Man Down" were recorded and produced by Kuk Harrell.

"Man Down" was written by Shama "Sak Pase" Joseph, Timothy Thomas, Theron Thomas and Shontelle Layne, with Instrumental production supervised by Sham of the Juggernauts.[2] Rihanna's vocals were recorded by Kuk Harrell, Josh Gudwin and Marcos Tovar at Westlake Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California.[2] Bobby Campbell served as the assistant vocal producer and recorder.[2] The song's music was recorded by Cary Clark at The Village, Los Angeles, California, and was mixed by Manny Marroquin at Larrabee Sound Studios, Los Angeles, California.[2] Marroquin was assisted in the song's mixing by Erik Madrid and Christian Plata.[2]

At the beginning of March 2011, Rihanna asked fans to help her select her next single. Via Twitter, fans were asked to choose from "Cheers (Drink to That)", "Man Down", "California King Bed" or "Fading". The most popular choice would have its video filmed at the end of March 2011.[3] On March 12, 2011 it was confirmed that fans had selected "California King Bed" as the next single from the album.[4] In the US, "Man Down" was released to US rhythmic and urban radios on May 3, 2011.[5][6] However internationally, "California King Bed" served as the fourth single.[7] "Man Down" was released to digital outlets in Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland on July 11, 2011 as the fifth international single from Loud.[8][9][10][11] Rihanna spoke about the song in November 2010 in an interview with MTV News:

"Man Down is gangsta mixed with reggae. It comes from me trying to achieve that [vibe]," Rihanna told about the saucy song. "I'm super inspired by reggae music [and it] has been a part of me since I was born, and I grew up listening to it. I grew up loving it. My favorite artists are all reggae artists. The special thing in that song is the fact that it's a female singing those lyrics, then you have that reggae thing and the chant; the overall energy in that song is so gangsta." She added later "It's got a lot of swagger. I really enjoy it.[12]


A 26-second sample of the chorus of "Man Down", which Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine described as Rihanna's "finest, most confident vocal performance to date."[13]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Man Down" was written by Shama "Sak Pase" Joseph, Timothy & Theron Thomas, and Shontelle Layne, with production completed by Joseph. The song draws heavily on the musical genre of reggae.[14] According to the digital music sheet published at, the song is written in the key of C minor and is set in common time with a moderate reggae feel of 78 beats per minute.[15] Rihanna's vocal range in the song spans from the low note of F3 to the high note of E♭5.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

"Man Down" received generally positive reviews from critics, with Jon Pareles of The New York Times commenting that Rihanna plays up her West Indian accent in the reggae of “Man Down” about shooting a man in Central Station.[16] August Brown of Los Angeles Times commented, “Man Down reasserts her Caribbean lilt with a swaggering murder ballad that one can’t help but hear as a warning shot across the radio dial to Chris Brown’s Deuces.[17] Entertainment Weekly writer Leah Greenblatt said that "the rum-pa-pum ragga "Man Down" burrows neck-deep in island rhythms."[18] Emily Mackay of NME commented that the album's experiments feel more organic, its tone better paced because of the Caribbean-tinged anthem for doomed youth of "Man Down".[19] James Skinner of BBC Online viewed "Man Down" as a Caribbean rhythm, where Rihanna relays a break-up as murder metaphor in thick Barbadian patois.[20] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine named the song the album's biggest highlight, a full-fledged reggae tune about a woman who shoots a man. He praised the song saying that Rihanna is surprisingly agile in this genre and is one of her finest, most confident vocal performances to date.[13]

Chart performance[edit]

Before becoming a single, "Man Down" debuted on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart at number 84[21] for the week of April 9, 2011 and reached a top ten peak of number nine.[22] For the week of June 11, 2011 the song debuted at number 94 on the US Billboard Hot 100[23] and peaked at number fifty-nine.[22] "Man Down" ranked at number 47 on Billboard magazine's best-selling R&B/Hip-Hop Songs of 2011.[24] The song also peaked at number 63 on the Canadian Hot 100.[25] "Man Down" also charted in other countries due to its release as a single in certain European territories in July 2011. Having debuted on the French Singles Chart at number 65 on the issue dated June 4, 2011, the single was released digitally and reached a peak of number one on July 25, 2011.[26] It stayed at number one for five weeks.[27] It marks Rihanna's eighth single to reach the top five in the country, following other singles from Loud, "Only Girl (In the World)" and "S&M".[28] In Switzerland, it has gradually risen into the top ten, reaching nine, and it reached the number-one spot in the Swiss Romandie chart (French part of Switzerland).[29] The single started off slowly but in the fourth week it jumped from thirteen to four on the Dutch Top 40. With the release of the video, the song managed to reach number fifty-four on the UK Singles Chart[30] and inside the top twenty on the UK R&B Chart at number fifteen, despite the song not receiving an official release in the country.[31] The song also reached the top twenty in Norway at number seventeen[32] and Belgium (Wallonia) at nineteen, both with no official releases in each territory.[33] In Poland, the song debuted at number five, eventually peaking at number four on the official Polish Airplay Chart.[34][35] In Romania it peaked at number-five on the Romanian Top 100, marking Rihanna's fifteenth top-ten there.[36]

Music video[edit]

Background and synopsis[edit]

The music video for "Man Down" was shot in Jamaica in April 2011,[37] and was directed by Anthony Mandler,[37] who worked with Rihanna for most of her music videos, including "Take a Bow" and "Rehab".[38][39] On May 1, 2011, Rihanna posted three images from the shoot via Twitter.[40] One of the images showed her on a beach wearing a white Dolce & Gabbana dress, while another image showed her riding a bike in Portland Parish.[40] The video premiered on 106 & Park on May 31, 2011.[37] In an interview with MTV News on May 16, 2011, Mandler discussed the music video more in depth:

We shot the video last month in Jamaica and it's my favorite song she's ever recorded, so I was really excited to get involved. And it's just one of those songs that demands a strong narrative and visual, and let's just say she let me go all the way. So I think you can expect something that's dramatic and shocking and intense and emotional and uplifting and enlightening.[41]

The video begins when Rihanna shoots a man making his way through a busy train station. After committing the crime, the camera focuses on the shot man and later Rihanna flees the scene. To create a timeline of events leading up to the crime, the video travels back in time to the previous day, when the singer is seen riding her bike and meeting with people in Kingston, Jamaica. There are also scenes of Rihanna alone inside a bedroom at dusk. Then at a nightclub, Rihanna begins to dance and flirt with another club-goer, who's actually the man that she shoots at the beginning. After she leaves the club, the singer's dance-floor partner follows her outside and begins to get violent. The video then cuts straight to the scene of a disheveled Rihanna crying in the street, after what appears to have been a sexual assault. The video concludes with the singer running to her home where she grabs a gun hidden in a dresser drawer; the screen goes black.[42]


The Parents Television Council (PTC), a non-profit organization that advocates what it considers responsible entertainment, criticized Rihanna for "cold, calculated execution of murder" in the video. The council disagreed with Rihanna's suggestion that killing a rapist is a proper form of justice and her rationale that it "sends a very strong underlying message 4 [sic] girls like me." They also stated "If Chris Brown shot a woman in his new video and BET premiered it, the world would stop. Rihanna should not get a pass." PTC also criticized BET for airing the video.[43] However, other commentators argued that the PTC's reaction to Rihanna's video is an example of double standard, with Julianne Escobedo Shepherd of AlterNet arguing that the PTC did not condemn Kanye West '​s video for "Monster" which featured deceased women hanging from the ceiling and West holding a woman's decapitated head. Shepherd also noted that the PTC did not criticize Eminem '​s video "Love the Way You Lie" (in which Rihanna is featured), which, according to Shepherd, "glorified and romanticized" domestic violence.[44] In response to the PTC, Rihanna stated:

I'm a 23 year old singer who doesn't have kids. What's up with everybody wanting me to be a parent [to their children]? I'm just a girl, I can only be our voice. We all know it's difficult and embarrassing to communicate touchy subject matters to anyone, especially our parents. The music industry isn't "Parent's 'R Us." We have the freedom to make art; let us! It's your job to make sure your children don't turn out like us. You can't hide your kids from society, or they'll never learn how to adapt. This is the real world!"[45]

The director of the video, Anthony Mandler, also responded to the news in an interview with Hollywood Reporter, stating that:

It's (the video) doing exactly what Rihanna and I hoped it would do, which is shine a light on the very dark subject matter... This medium used to be a great medium of messages... I grew up in an era of Madonna releasing videos and sparking controversy. I think most people are wasting this medium... The fact that there's an argument to ban this because this will make girls retaliate from abuse with murder is skipping over the point. We obviously have a huge issue to deal with as a country.[46]

Live performances[edit]

Rihanna performed "Man Down" at Radio 1's Hackney Weekend on May 24, 2012, as the ninth song on the set list. She also performed the song at the Loud Tour in 2011 and at the Diamonds World Tour in 2013.[47]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Man Down" – 4:27
  • Digital download[49]
  1. "Man Down" (Single Version) – 4:27

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording locations
  • Vocal recording – Westlake Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California.
  • Music recording – The Village, Los Angeles, California.
  • Mixing – Larrabee Sound Studios, Los Angeles, California.

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Loud, Def Jam Recordings, SRP Records.[2]



Region Certification Sales/shipments
Belgium (BEA)[84] Gold 15,000*
Italy (FIMI)[85] Platinum 30,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[86] Gold 15,000x

*sales figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Radio and release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United States[87][88] May 3, 2011 Rhythmic, Urban Def Jam
Denmark[11] July 11, 2011 Digital download Universal Music
Italy[89] August 5, 2011 Radio

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rihanna's 'Man Down' Is Her Answer To Bob Marley Classic |
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External links[edit]