Neha Patil (Editor)

What a Man (song)

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1968 (United States)


David Crawford

7-inch single

Volt VOA-4001

"What a Man" is a song written by Dave Crawford, and originally recorded for Stax Records' Volt imprint by Linda Lyndell, whose recording reached No. 50 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1968. The song was sampled and reinterpreted as "Whatta Man" in 1993 by Salt-n-Pepa with En Vogue; the version became a commercial success. In 2011, the German singer Lena Meyer-Landrut (credited as Lena) covered the song while retaining the original title and lyrics.


Early versions

Linda Lyndell, a white singer who had been a support act with James Brown and Ike & Tina Turner and then recommended to Stax Records by Otis Redding, recorded "What a Man" for her album of the same name. The song was essentially improvised by Lyndell, record producer Dave Crawford, and the Stax studio musicians in Memphis, Tennessee. It was released as a single in 1968 with the B-side track "I Don't Know"; both songs were credited to and produced by Dave Crawford. The single entered the Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart on August 24, 1968 and then peaked at number 50. The record came to the attention of white supremacists in the Ku Klux Klan, who threatened Lyndell for associating with black musicians; as a result, she largely withdrew from the music business for the next 25 years.

Laura Lee covered the song, released in 1970 as a single by the Cotillion Records with "Separation Line" as the B-side track. Lee's version earned poor sales.


In 1993, Salt-N-Pepa recorded the song retitled "Whatta Man" for Runaway Love, an EP by En Vogue, who is credited as the featured group. Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor wrote the rap lyrics and produced the version. Salt-N-Pepa sampled Lyndell's original recording and remade the song as a rap song throughout the recording.

En Vogue sang the refrain of the song, "Whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty good man." "Whatta Man" became later featured in Salt-n-Pepa's 1993 album Very Necessary and then the album's second single released that same year. En Vogue sang the entire vocals on all original and remixed versions of this song, with the exception of the male vocals at the beginning of the song which were performed by brothers Troy and John Mitchell of the rap group 3 Feet. While the song and video features all four members of En Vogue, Cindy Herron does not perform any of the lead vocals. While some lead vocals are performed by Maxine Jones and Terry Ellis, the song is predominantly led by Dawn Robinson.

Commercial performance

"Whatta Man" was a major hit for Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue, peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, and at number seven on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, this version was certified platinum. It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and the American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Single. It was held from reaching #1 by Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do" at 2 and Montell Jordan's "This is How We Do It" at 1. "Whatta Man" was named #23 on VH1's countdown of the 100 Greatest Songs of the 1990s.

Lyrics analyses

Richard Harrington of The Washington Post interprets the song as "a celebration of strong men who stay home and care for kids." Garth Baker-Fletcher, an Associate Professor of Religion from Texas College, interpreted the version's refrain as "praising a steady-thinking, family-values-yet-sexy man." Writer Keith Boykin described the song portion, "Although most men are hos / He flows on the down low / Cuz I never heard about him with another girl," as if "rather than praise his faithfulness, the artists appreciate his discretion, while tacitly acknowledging his cheating." Moreover, Boykin said that "another girl" refers to Salt-N-Pepa's considerations of "heterosexual infidelity" and as if "some women [...] were publicly excusing their men for their down low behavior."

Music videos

A music video was released on the week ending January 17, 1994 to promote the single. Tupac Shakur and Treach from Naughty by Nature make cameo appearances. The single's music video, directed by Matthew Rolston and filmed by cinematographer Derek M. Allen, won three MTV Video Music Awards: Best Dance Video, Best R&B Video, and Best Choreography in 1994. A New York magazine journalist Dinitia Smith wrote about the video: "Salt-N-Pepa have [sic] a warmth and sexual heat that make Madonna seem contrived and mechanical."

Salt-n-Pepa later recorded a variation on their own, with slightly rewritten lyrics, for another music video as the one-time segment of Monday Night Football. In the Monday music video, the two women wearing tight short-sleeved clothes, including T-shirts containing their respective logos of two opposing teams, are seen in a gym complimenting two football players of their respective teams, one white and one black, for the men's bodies and weight training efforts. In contrast, the lyrics of the Monday Night Football music video say that "their man 'likes pushin'[,] spends quality ball with the fellas,' and 'takes a big hit, 'cause he's a real man.'" According to Trujillo, the rap song may associate hypermasculinity "with combat sports such as [American] football." He further said that the standard version has the women rather choose men who do not play football but are good parental candidates and are comfortable with their masculinities, while the Monday music video "not only objectifie[s] football players as sex objects but also reinforce[s] stereotypes of black men as sexual performers and white men as loving fathers."

Track listing

Whatta Man (Maxi-Single)
  1. Whatta Man - (Video remix)
  2. Whatta Man - (Luvbug remix)
  3. Whatta Man - (12" Danny D remix)
  4. Push It - (remix)
  5. Let's Talk About AIDS

Lena version

The 1968 Linda Lyndell/David Crawford version of the song was also covered by German singer Lena Meyer-Landrut as the theme song to the 2011 German film What a Man. It is featured on the Platinum edition her second studio album Good News, it will also feature on the Soundtrack for the movie. It was released on 2 September 2011 as CD single and Digital download in Germany.


The single was released on 2 September 2011 for digital download on iTunes, the single included a Live version of the song "Good News". The song will be the theme song to the German movie What a Man.

Music video

A music video to accompany the release of "What a Man" was first released onto YouTube on 30 August 2011 at a total length of three minutes. The video features actor Matthias Schweighöfer.

Other cover versions and uses

The television show Bill Nye the Science Guy features "Whatta Brain", a parody of this song by En Vogue parody band En Lobe, in the episode "Brain". Australian rock band New Waver covered the song in 1994 and released their cover as a Cassingle. Funny or Die released a version of this song with Bruno Mars singing and acting out various scenes, such as arm wrestling scene with many men competitors.

The original "What A Man" was performed in the movie The Sapphires and appears on the soundtrack album. It was used as Dan Wilson's intro music when he came up to bat for the Seattle Mariners. The Salt-N-Pepa version appears in a 2016 television commercial for Walmart.

A sub-unit of South Korean girl group I.O.I from Produce 101 sampled the hook of the Salt-n-Pepa version for their song "Whatta Man," which was released on August 9, 2016.


What a Man (song) Wikipedia

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