"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 #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1][2] Its title is a pun on the 1963 comedy film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

The song's lyrics, which Rolling Stone characterized as "almost biblically chauvinistic",[3] attribute all the works of modern civilization (the car, the train, the electric light) to the efforts of men, but claim that it all would "mean nothing without a woman or a girl." 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.[4]

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 sectionarranged 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.[5]

"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.


 [hide*1 Personnel


  • James Brown - lead vocal

with studio band:

Other players, including trombone, bass and strings, unknown

Arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe[6]

Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1966) Peak


Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[7] 14
France (SNEP)[8] 49
US BillboardHot 100[9] 8
US R&B Singles (Billboard)[10] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[11] 13

Cover versions[edit]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 2001 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.[15]
  • 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.
  • Best version by Rachel Ara recorded live at Mas du Diable 2012

Answer songs[edit]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

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