"Man Down" (CD Single)



Violent lyrics about guns reinforced by very graphic video.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

An extremely negative message about countering violence (a rape) with violence (murder).

Positive role models

No positive role model material here.


Violent lyrics about shooting someone are coupled with an even more violent video depicting rape and a gun blast that kills a man.


The lyrics themselves don't reference sex, but the video shows the before-and-after of a rape scene.


A couple instances of the "N" word.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that "Man Down" is a very troubling song told from the point of view of a person who has just shot someone. While the song lyrics don't directly reference rape as the reason behind the shooting, the song's video shows Rihanna being followed into a dark alley by a man she met at a club, presumably to be raped. Even without the video, the single is mature enough to put it way out of young listeners' league.

What's the story?

"MAN DOWN" is a single from the album Loud by R&B star Rihanna that focuses on one thing -- shooting someone. While the lyrics don't include sex, substance use, or a lot of profanity (though there are a couple of "N" words), they describe a person who has shot and killed a man: "I just shot a man down in central station / It's a 22, I call her Peggy Sue when she fits right down in my shoes / What do you expect me to do if you're playing me for a fool / I will lose my cool and reach for my fire arm / I didn't mean to lay him down but it's too late to turn back now." The line "playing me for a fool" is an indirect reference to a rape, which is very directly addressed, along with a violent shooting, in the song's graphic music video. This is hands-down not a song (or video) for young ears.

Is it any good?


In a nod to her Caribbean roots (she hails from Barbados), Rihanna peppers this track with an infectious steel drum and reggae flair. But the appealing rasta beat can't mask the violent quality of the lyrics, which mars an otherwise cool song.  

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why countering even terrible violence with more violence is never the way to respond. If someone hurt you, what would be the best way to react?

  • Rihanna was notoriously abused by her former boyfriend and fellow R&B singer Chris Brown. What relationship might this song have to Rihanna's personal life?

  • The video is even more controversial and violent than the song. Why do you think music producers would choose to do this?

Music details

Release date:June 16, 2011
Label:Island Def Jam
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:Yes

This review of "Man Down" (CD Single) was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byclarence August 5, 2015
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byNLRicci December 16, 2012

Catchy and Tropical, but also dark and violent.

There's no doubting that this guilt-ridden song is about murder, " I took his heart when I pulled out that gun", " Oh mama, I just shot a man down, in central station". There also two uses of the "N***a, which makes this song even more mature. So get the edited version, which is okay for teens. This version is only for teens 14 and up.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 9 years old July 24, 2012

Safe words-Bad video

It might not be the best video for kids but. The lyrics are perfectly safe for 9 and up
What other families should know
Too much violence


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass