Meaning of “Man Down” by Rihanna

In “Man Down”, Rihanna narrates the murder of a man she had been with. Provoked by what seems to be an abusive behavior, she picks up a gun and shoots him dead in the middle of a crowd.

The singer regrets her action almost immediately as she confesses she didn’t really mean to end his life, but to defend herself. She killed him in the heat of the moment and plans to escape so she doesn’t end up in jail.

Rihanna revealed to Spin magazine that the meaning of the song goes deeper than just shooting a man. She explained that “Man Down” is really about breaking a man’s heart, adding that she was inspired to give it a reggae vibe because it’s the kind of music she grew up loving.

Facts about “Man Down”

  • “Man Down” was released on May 3, 2011 as part of Rihanna’s fifth album, Loud.
  • It was written by Haitian producer, Sak Pase, in collaboration with Theron and Timothy Thomas of Rock City and singer, Shontelle. The group wrote the song during a writing camp in Los Angeles in 2010
  • The song was produced by Rock City together with Kuk Harrell, who was the vocal producer.
  • The songwriting duo Rock City (Timothy and Theron) revealed that their inspiration behind this tune came from the 1970s classic reggae tune, “I Shot the Sheriff”. “I Shot the Sheriff” was performed by the late reggae legend, Bob Marley.
  • Ray Daniels, manager of Rock City, said the total cost for the production of the track was $1,078,000, which includes marketing and promotional costs.
Lyrics of "Man Down"

“Man Down” Music Video

The music video for this song was filmed in Jamaica. This video was officially released via American pay TV channel, BET in May 2011. The visual was directed by veteran American music video director, Anthony Mandler. It is noteworthy to mentiton that prior to this video, Mandler had worked on several projects for Rihanna, including the video for her 2008 hit song, “Disturbia”.

How “Man Down” performed on the global charts

In France, “Man Down” topped the chart for five consecutive weeks, and was among the best three songs in Belgium, and The Netherlands.

“Man Down” peaked at number 59 on the Hot 100. It went on to spend a total of 14 weeks on that chart. In the United Kingdom, the song did better by reaching number 54.  

Does “Man Down” contain samples?

Yes. It contains samples of Jay-Z’s 2001 track titled “All I Need”.

Cover Versions/Remixes

Several cover versions of this track have been released by multiple performers, including the likes of:

  •  Walk of the Earth (in 2011)
  • Tal (in 2011)
  • Triggerfinger (in 2012)
  • Harp Player (in 2016)

The 2011 song “Cheatin’” by rapper, Lil’ Kim (ft. Rihanna) is a remix of “Man Down”.

6 Responses

  1. Cuthy of igascob says:

    Rihana did it in unfair manner
    da man wud hv nt finished all she hd.
    R.I.P MAN

  2. Bad Bi-ch says:

    I don’t think this song is about a man she was with. I think it was a man who was in the club with her he tried to engage in sexual behaviors with her after they danced but she denied and left because she only had wanted to dance not have sex… sadly after she left the club he followed her into a secluded area and raped her so the next day she followed him in central station and shot him as she should I would have shot him 50 times but whatever she still a queen peridot.

    • Pafennie says:

      Exactly, that what I thought too. And I felt like it is a message to society. That whenever a woman get r*pe, no one does nothing, but when the victim take matters into their own hands, they are seen as the criminal for their actions. That what it looks like to me.

  3. Ririfan says:

    deep and meaningful song.

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