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Roger - I Want To Be Your Man (1987)

  • Video Views 12,683,849
  • 80's Score 80's score: 1.46
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"I Want to Be Your Man" is a song by American funk singer-songwriter Roger Troutman, from his third studio album Unlimited!. ...

"I Want to Be Your Man" is a song by American funk singer-songwriter Roger Troutman, from his third studio album Unlimited!. It was released as the lead single from the album in 1987 by Reprise Records. The song was co-written by Roger's brother, Larry Troutman, and produced by Roger, who conceived of the song as a statement on romantic commitment. "I Want to Be Your Man" features Roger singing in both his natural tenor and his trademark talk box.

The song topped the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100. Internationally, the song reached number nine in the Netherlands, number 15 in Germany, number 18 in New Zealand, and number 27 in Canada. It has featured in films such as 2000's Love & Basketball and has been sampled by numerous R&B and hip hop artists. The 2002 single "Down 4 U" by Irv Gotti featuring Ja Rule, Ashanti, Vita, and Charli Baltimore contains interpolations of the song. "I Want to Be Your Man" was covered by Charlie Wilson and Fantasia in 2010.

Composition and production

Roger Troutman developed "I Want to Be Your Man" around the theme of romantic commitment. "Guys have trouble committing and women want us to commit," he explained to authors Adam White and Fred Bronson. "Women want us to admit that we don't want to commit." Troutman took the idea and began working on a track similar in style to "Computer Love," a 1986 hit for his band Zapp. "I was playing in Dallas and [Troutman's brother Larry] flew out. We sat in the hotel room one day and wrote the song. I talked to him about what I was trying to say and one thing led to another. We came back and recorded a vocal."

"I Want to Be Your Man" is a ballad featuring Roger's vocals filtered through a vocoder. According to Roger, he had never mixed his "human" voice with the talk box before, and recording the vocals was tedious because he could only play one note at a time on the vocoder. To layer six-part harmonies, he spoke the lyric while playing a melody line then rewound the tape and repeated the process for the harmonizing part while playing together with the previously recorded one. After he finished layering tracks, if he didn't like the result he had to scrap everything and start over. Larry Troutman recommended Nicole Cottom, a friend of his daughter, to help sing background vocals. Roger recalled her being in the studio one day while he was recording his vocals: "There was a spot in the song where there was a hole and I asked her to do something. It was so good, there was no need to take it out."

Critical reception

A review of "I Want to Be Your Man" in the September 26, 1987, issue of Billboard called the single "a sultry ballad" and noted the similarity of Roger's "trademark" vocal style to that used in Zapp's recordings. In a 1987 review of Roger's Unlimited! album, Connie Johnson of the Los Angeles Times said of the song: "It's hard to resist" when Troutman sings through the voice box "with languid, shy-guy sincerity". Music critic Bruce Pollock listed the song in his 2005 book Rock Song Index: The 7500 Most Important Songs for the Rock and Roll Era.

Usage in media

"I Want to Be Your Man" was included on the official soundtrack albums of the films Love & Basketball (2000), Pootie Tang (2001), and Soul Kitchen (2009). The song was used in a season two episode of the television show Everybody Hates Chris.

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