Chart Check: Toni Braxton Makes Strong Debut, SZA Picks Second ‘Ctrl’ Single

Toni Braxton SZA Chart Check

Toni Braxton SZA Chart Check

Welcome back to another edition of Chart Check! Each Friday, Rated R&B provides detailed insight to the weekly chart movements of your favorite R&B artists and R&B songs. In this updated format, we will discuss Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs (Urban AC) and Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop National Airplay (Urban) charts extensively. Read below for more information on the week of September 30, 2017:

R&B Vets on the Rise

The living legend herself Toni Braxton is back on the R&B scene with her new single “Deadwood.” The bluesy tune received a whopping 26 adds on R&B radio, making it the most added song of the week on R&B formats and the second most added song across all urban radio formats. In an interview with the co-hosts from E!’s Daily Pop, Braxton cites singer and “musical husband” Babyface as the catalyst for “getting her mojo back,” as “Deadwood” is her first solo single release in seven years. This song is the first offering from Braxton’s Sex and Cigarettes album, which will be her eighth solo studio album. The album is set to be released in early 2018.

Speaking of living legends, Mary J. Blige proves to be a consistent hit-maker as her current single “Set Me Free” bumps up 11-10 on the Adult R&B chart in the latest tracking week. This is her 22nd top 10 on the chart, tying R&B legend Gerald Levert for most top 10s on the Adult R&B chart. Her reign began in 1994 with her My Life cut “Be Happy,” which peaked at the No. 8 spot. Blige has already announced that “Glow Up,” featuring Missy Elliott, DJ Khaled, and rapper Quavo, will be the next single from her album Strength of a Woman, which was released in April.

Second Singles: SZA & Childish Gambino

Are you the 9-5, the weekend, or both? SZA has selected fan-favorite “The Weekend” as the official second single from her breakout album Ctrl. SZA has been working hard as of late between her headlining tour, original music for the Insecure soundtrack, and her feature on Maroon 5’s “What Lovers Do.” It’s also been reported that Solange Knowles will be directing the music video for “The Weekend,” which sits at the No. 40 spot on urban radio this week. Her lead single “Love Galore” rose 25-23 on the Urban AC chart, garnering a 40 spin increase in the latest tracking week.

Childish Gambino has finally selected a new single! “Terrified” was sent to R&B radio this week, racking up five adds. This is the second single from his 2016 album Awaken! My Love. Lead single “Redbone” made gains in its 40th week on the urban AC chart, increasing 63 spins since last week’s tally. The song holds at No. 3. Elsewhere, congratulations are in order for Gambino, who is known as Donald Glover professionally, for winning two Emmy awards this past week: the win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and for directing a comedy series for FX’s Atlanta, which he created, directs, and stars in.

Quick Notes

And in quick notes: The Weeknd has sent “Die For You” to urban radio, receiving 15 adds in the latest tracking week. The Starboy cut now sits at No. 28 on the Urban AC chart; Will Downing’s collaboration with Avery*Sunshine “I’m Feeling the Love” sits just two slots below the official Urban AC chart this week. It’s the lead single from his brand new album Soul Survivor, which released today; Jhené Aiko’s breezy jam “While We’re Young” has finally landed on the urban charts at No. 39 this week. It’s the lead single for her new, surprise album Trip, which includes features from Brandy, Chris Brown, and more; Chris Brown is riding high on iTunes and on the charts with his new single “Pills and Automobiles.” The song had the biggest increases in spins at urban radio (395) and now sits at No. 23, rising seven spots since last week; Lastly, Rihanna continues to make chart moves as Kendrick Lamar’s “LOYALTY,” which she is featured on, rises 5-4 on the urban radio chart. The song is making unprecedented gains in its 13th week on the chart, and will be looking to overtake DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” at the No. 3 spot next week.

What about you? Do you like Toni Braxton’s new single? Will you be purchasing Jhené Aiko’s surprise album? Did you enjoy this week’s Chart Check? Leave all of your comments in the designated section below!

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Toni Braxton Sets Release Date for New Album ‘Sex & Cigarettes’

Just hours after releasing “Long As I Live,” Toni Braxton reveals the official release date for her new album.

Scheduled to arrive on March 23, Sex & Cigarettes, will release on Def Jam Recordings. Braxton told Essence last fall, “Sex & Cigarettes is more about me feeling sexy, independent, and expressing my feelings. I think for a long time I felt I had to make certain records, but now I want to just be free! I don’t want to be censored, I just want to focus on being an artist and creating good quality music that people can relate to.”

Braxton dropped the record’s first single “Deadwood” last summer and followed-up with another song “Heart Away” featuring alleged boyfriend Birdman early this year. The latter track is not expected to appear on Sex & Cigarettes. 

Sex & Cigarettes is Braxton’s first solo album since Pulse in 2010.

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Toni Braxton Releases New Single ‘Long As I Live’

After dropping “Deadwood” late last year, Toni Braxton reemerges with a new song titled “Long As I Live.”  Arriving just in time for Valentine’s Day, the heartfelt track finds Braxton having trouble getting over a past relationship and seeing her ex with another woman.

“Long as I live / I’ll never get over / It’s killing me / I’ll never get over,” Braxton sings. “If you can’t be with the one you love / It’s okay.”

“Long As I Live” and “Deadwood” will appear on Braxton’s next album, Sex & Cigarettes, which is expected to release some time this year.

Listen to “Long As I Live” below.

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10 Underrated Songs by Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton Underrated Songs

“I used to dream of living lavish, now your girl’s a living legend,” Toni Braxton sings on her newest offering “Heart Away.” She’s absolutely right: she is a living legend. With three multi-platinum albums, six top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and over 67 million records sold, Braxton is basking in the glory of her success.

As she gears up for her eighth studio album Sex & Cigarettes, let’s countdown some of her most slept-on records in a new monthly series we like to call UnderRated. (Sidenote: to be considered an “underrated” record, the song couldn’t have I have been a single at any point in time.)

Check out the list below:

“Gimme Some” (feat. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) from the album The Heat (2000)

Credits: Jazze Pha, Toni Braxton, Babyface, Lisa Lopes (Writers); Babyface and Jazze Pha (Producers)

Oh, Toni, why wasn’t this danceable number a single? Even though Babyface and Jazze Pha seem like an unlikely musical pair, they went to work on the lyrical content and production of this banger, which has Braxton taking charge when it comes to her love interest.

“It is an age-old story / Goes back back to Adam and to Eve / I know you know what I want for / And if it ain’t clear to ya baby / Don’t stop, let’s Rock, give it to me baby,” she sings. Left-Eye had a stellar verse too.

“What’s Good” from the album Libra (2005)

Credits: Bryan-Michael Cox, Johnta Austin, Toni Braxton, Joe Sample (Writers); Bryan-Michael Cox and Keri Lewis (Producers)

“What’s Good” appears as the third track off of Libra, and following the hip-hop edged songs “Please” and “Trippin’,” it’s a perfect musical shift in the gear of the album. Led by a genius sample of Joe Sample’s “In All My Wildest Dreams,” Braxton sings & coos confidently inc her signature contralto tone about the great things her new man does for her.

“It’s like a house I never left / Like a fever I wanna catch / Like a mountain that’s worth the climb / Talkin’ ’bout this man of mine / Like my money I wanna spend / My homie-lover-friend / He’ll be with me till the end / And he’s never failed me yet,” she sings.

“Caught (Don’t Take Your Hat Off) [feat. Mo’Nique]” from Pulse (2010)

Credits: Mikkel Stoleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, LaShawn Daniels (Writers); Stargate (Producer)

Songs that appear on an album’s deluxe edition have a way of adding value to the original album; that’s exactly what this Stargate-produced jam off the Pulse deluxe album does. Braxton kicks her lover out of her house after being cheated on.

“Baby I been more than good to you / When you leaving gimme my key back too / It’s about to go down /Your, your other new lady/ You’re out there with your pants down,” she sings. The light, somber piano is almost addicting, and Mo’Nique’s monologue is the perfect touch.

“Talking In His Sleep” from the album Secrets (1996)

Credits: Toni Braxton (Writer); Keith Crouch (Producer)

Following “Un-Break My Heart” on the Secrets track listing is no easy feat, but bluesy tune “Talking in His Sleep” holds its own. Braxton’s speaking voice has a chilling effect as she touches on infidelity and adultery. “Guilty secrets/ They are haunting my life / And he doesn’t even know that I know/ Can you hear him / The promises he makes/ Said we’ll be together for always / He’s such a liar / Then he goes out to burn me.” The Mary J. Blige-esque jazzy bass line is killer!

“You’ve Been Wrong” from the album The Heat (2000)

Credits: Toni Braxton, Brian Casey, Brandon Casey, Teddy Bishop, Kevin Hicks, Thom Bell, Linda Creed (Writers); Teddy Bishop and Kevin Hicks (Producers)

If The Heat was a family, “Just Be a Man About It” would be the older sibling to this guitar-led track, which hears Braxton finally finding the strength to leave a no-good lover. “Finally I’ve realized/ Your lies have opened up my eyes/ This love affair, now it’s over, over/You’ve been wrong for so long/ And I can’t take the pain you bring me no more/ You’ve been wrong for so long/ And I can’t take the pain you bring me no more,” she sings. Oh, and the Stylistics’ “Stop Look Listen To Your Heart” interpolation? Genius.

“Lies, Lies, Lies” from the album More Than a Woman (2002)

Credits: Keri Lewis and Stokley (Writers); Keri Lewis (Producer)

Ms. Braxton is fed up on this rock n’ roll (yes, rock!) cut. “Don’t bother to apologize / It’s too late, heard it all before / And it should come as no surprise / I’m leavin’, I packed my things / ’Cuz I’m through with this merry-go-round / I’m getting off, I finally found / My strength way deep down / I shoulda left your ass after the first round,” she sings. This is one of the best songs Braxton has ever recorded. EVER (in my opinion).

The raw emotion, the pacing of the song, the commitment to the vocal — Toni was in her bag! Stokley didn’t play a single game with the lyrics, guitar solo, or the backing vocals. Shout out to Chris Dave, who played the drums on this song. And trust, this song is nothing without the drums!

“Shadowless” from the album Libra (2005)

Credits: Alex Cantrell and Philip White (Writers); Keri Lewis (Producer)

Some of Toni’s best songs have a nice guitar somewhere hidden in the instrumentation, but the acoustic guitar takes center stage on this song about regret and love lost. “Gotta make it right with you / Ooh you baby / So tell me what I gotta do / Ooh to make u come back home / Ooh boy how can this be / I remember that every step / U were here with me/ Now I’m shadowless,” she sings. There is just something so magical about the Living Legend’s smoky vocals over the spirited strums of the guitar. Although this would’ve been a nice finale track for this album, penultimate isn’t so bad either.
(If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the AOL Sessions version of this song.)

“The Heat” from the album The Heat (2000)

Credits: Keri Lewis and Toni Braxton (Writers and Producers)

Braxton channels the summer vibes and brings the heat on this sexy title track. “Summer’s almost over so you better hurry / Andale! Andale! / Starting right now let’s dance and party / Ole! Ole! Ole! / Give Me a reason to love you through, through the season / No need to hesitate, come on let’s get it on,” she sings. This song is easy and breezy; sultry and sensual; sex — well, y’all get the point. And to answer your question, Toni, yes, I do want some ice cream.

“Why Should I Care” from the album Secrets (1996)

Credit: Babyface (Writer and Producer)

Braxton is fed up and denying her ex lover a second chance on this ‘90s tune. “And every time I start to slip / I just remind myself / I need only thing of it / I went through so much hell / You say ya wanna get things back / The way they used to be / Can you give one good reason / Why I should darlin’/ Why should I care / Why should I care for you,” she sings. Babyface and Toni Braxton are always a magical pair, but you have to get into these background vocals from the one and only Chanté Moore!

“Do You Remember When” from the album More Than a Woman (2002)

Credits: Toni Braxton, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins, LaShawn Daniels III (Writers); Rodney Jerkins (Producer)

This More Than a Woman cut finds Toni Braxton thinking back on the better moments of her time with an ex lover. “Do it like you did back then / And then we’ll do it again / Do you remember when? / Reminiscing and more on what we had before / Makes me feel so warm inside / Wanting you constantly and feeling so sorry / That we had to say goodbye,” she sings. Although this song feels like a The Neptunes-Kelis combo, Rodney Jerkins’ groovy production and Toni’s tender vocals fit seamlessly on this track, making it one of the standouts on this album.

Honorable Mentions

“Selfish” from More Than a Woman: Upon first listen, you’ll notice how intricate the background vocals are. So, it’s no surprise that this song credits Brandy as a writer and her ex-boyfriend Robert Smith as the producer of this breezy tune.

“If I Have to Wait” from Pulse: It’s unfortunate that Country radio and the Country music industry is so exclusive, because this had the potential to be a nice crossover hit.

“Sposed to Be” from Libra: Blackground Records was not feeling the original album that Toni Braxton and then-husband Keri Lewis turned in, so they set her up with additional recording sessions. That decision led to the creation of this sensual cut, which is spearheaded by The Underdogs and even features a writing credit for Keri Hilson.

What are your favorite songs from this list? Let us know in the comment section below!

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