"Man Down" (CD Single)

Music review by
Stephanie Bruzzese, Common Sense Media
"Man Down" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Violent lyrics about guns reinforced by very graphic video.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

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

Positive Role Models & Representations

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byclarence August 5, 2015
Adult Written byteddybear88 October 14, 2011


No! this is horrible! Its Murder, violence! don't let your kids listen to this!
Teen, 14 years old Written byspeyan727 October 10, 2018
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 ma... Continue reading

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.  

Talk to your kids 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

  • Artist: Rihanna
  • Release date: June 16, 2011
  • Type: Single
  • Label: Island Def Jam
  • Genre: R&B
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: Yes
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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