It's a Man's Man's Man's World

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For the James Brown album, see It's a Man's Man's Man's World (album). For works with similar titles, see It's a Man's World (disambiguation).
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
Single by James Brown[1]
from the album It's a Man's Man's Man's World
B-side "Is It Yes or Is It No?"
Released April 1966 (1966-04)
Format 7" High Fidelity
Recorded February 16, 1966, Talent Masters Studios, New York, NY
Length 2:52
Label King 6035
  • James Brown
  • Betty Jean Newsome
Producer(s) James Brown
James Brown[1] singles chronology
"Ain't That a Groove Part 1"
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
"Money Won't Change You"

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" is a song by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome. Brown recorded it on February 16, 1966 in a New York studio and released it as a single later that year. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2][3] Its title is a word play on the 1963 comedy film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.


The song's lyrics, which Rolling Stone characterized as "biblically chauvinistic",[4] attribute all the works of modern civilization (the car, the train, the boat, (Like Noah built the ark,), and the electric light) to the efforts of men, but claim that it all would "mean nothing without a woman or a girl".[1] The song also states that man made toys for the baby boys and girls, and makes a comment about the fact that "Man makes Money", from other men. Before the song's fade, Brown states that man is lost in his bitterness and in the wilderness. Brown's co-writer and onetime girlfriend, Betty Jean Newsome, wrote the lyrics based on her own observations of the relations between the sexes. In later years, Newsome would claim that Brown didn't write any part of the song and argued in court that Brown sometimes forgot to pay her royalties.[5]

The composition of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" developed over a period of several years. Tammy Montgomery, better known as Tammi Terrell, recorded "I Cried", a Brown-penned song based on the same chord changes, in 1963. Brown himself recorded a demo version of the song, provisionally entitled "It's a Man's World", in 1964. This version later appeared on the CD compilations The CD of JB and Star Time.

The released version of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" was recorded quickly, in only two takes, with a studio ensemble that included members of Brown's touring band and a string section arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe. A female chorus was involved in the recording sessions, but their parts were edited out of the song's final master.[6]

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" became a staple of Brown's live shows for the rest of his career. Its slow, simmering groove and declamatory vocal line made it suitable for long, open-ended performances incorporating spoken ruminations on love and loss and sometimes interpolations from other songs. It appears on almost all of Brown's live albums starting with 1967's Live at the Garden. Brown also recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the song with the Louie Bellson Orchestra for his 1970 album Soul on Top.

In 2004, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" was ranked number 123 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


  • James Brown – lead vocal

with studio band:

Other players, including trombone, bass and strings, unknown

Arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe[7]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[8] 14
France (SNEP)[9] 49
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 8
US R&B Singles (Billboard)[11] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[12] 13

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been recorded by many artists in various idioms over the years.


  • Michael Jackson samples the brass introduction from the song for "Bad".[citation needed]
  • "It's A Man's World" by Ice Cube from his 1990 album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted samples this song.
  • The trumpet introduction was sampled by the Wu-Tang Clan for their 2000 song "Gravel Pit" and by Nigerian-Greek rapper MC Yinka in the song "Χαιρετισμός" (Chairetismos) from his album "Αλάνα" (Alana).
  • 2Pac used a sample on the song "Tradin War Stories" from his 1996 album All Eyez on Me.
  • Rapper Beanie Sigel used a sample for his song "Man's World" from his 2001 album The Reason.
  • The song is also sampled on Alicia Keys' song "Fallin'".
  • Macy Gray sampled on her song "Ghetto Love" on her album "Big".
  • The song is also sampled on Guilty Simpson's song "Man's World" produced by J Dilla.[16]
  • The song was most recently[when?] sampled in a live performance by Jennifer Hudson as the prelude to her cover of Aretha Franklin's classic, "Respect".
  • The hip hop band Heavy D & the Boyz, sampled the musical introduction as the same on their track "You Ain't Heard Nuttin' Yet" for the album titled Big Tyme.
  • Young The Giant covered the song released exclusively on a Spotify Spotify Sessions track.

Answer songs[edit]

Neneh Cherry released the answer song "Woman" on her 1996 album Man in response to the chauvinism of the original.

The band Napalm Death released the song "It's a M.A.N.S World!", which attacks and parodies the ideas of chauvinism and patriarchy ideas, on their 1988 album From Enslavement to Obliteration.

Preceded by
"When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
June 4, 1966 – June 11, 1966 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Hold On, I'm Comin'" by Sam & Dave

Uses in popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b James Brown interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1970)
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 84. 
  3. ^ White, Cliff (1991). "Discography". In Star Time (pp. 54–59) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  4. ^ It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World: James Brown : Rolling Stone
  5. ^ It's a Woman's World - Page 1 - Music - New York - Village Voice
  6. ^ White, Cliff, and Harry Weinger (1991). "Are You Ready for Star Time?". In Star Time (pp. 29) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  7. ^ Leeds, Alan, and Harry Weinger (1991). "Star Time: Song by Song". In Star Time (pp. 46–53) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  8. ^ " – James Brown – It's A Man's Man's Man's World" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  9. ^ " – James Brown – It's A Man's Man's Man's World" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "James Brown – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for James Brown. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  11. ^ It's a Man's Man's Man's World - James Brown - Awards. Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Accessed on August 3, 2013.
  12. ^ "June 1966/ Archive Chart: 16 June 1966" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  13. ^ It's A Man's Man's Man's World (Glee Cast Version): Glee Cast: MP3 Downloads
  14. ^ "Hot 100: The Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 122 (24): 46. June 19, 2010. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  15. ^ "Glee Cast - It's A Man's, Man's Man's World". α Retrieved October 10, 2010. 
  16. ^ The Wire - J Dilla - exclusive

External links[edit]