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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What a Time: 20 Memorable ‘Sessions @ AOL’ Performances (R&B Edition)

Sessions @ AOL may have launched in 2002, but its presence was felt more in 2003 as the way we hear and see our favorite artists online started changing at a rapid speed. From the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) going to legal war with individual music file-sharers ( Napster, Wake.Princeton.edu ) to the launch of Apple’s iTunes Music Store, the options for consumers to follow their beloved artists started to become more difficult. But Sessions @ AOL made this easier.

Brought to us by AOL Music, the mini-concert experience became an outlet for artists to perform their past and presents hits in a more up-close and intimate way. Similar to MTV-Unplugged, many artists have sung acoustic and stripped down versions of their popular songs and album gems. Artists even sat down to dish on their latest albums ahead or after its release.

After 10 years of special performances, exclusive interviews and some name changes (AOL Sessions, AOL Music Sessions), the intimate concert series ended abruptly in 2013.

While others (Walmart Soundcheck and Yahoo! Pepsi Smash) have attempted to capture their own exclusive studio performance moments, nothing beats holding the house phone hostage so no uses it so you could use dial-up to watch your faves spill the tea on their album and sing your favorite cut track.

In the spirit of nostalgia, we compiled a list of 20 memorable performances from the online music concert series. (Sidenote: Can you guess how we ranked the list? The answer is at the end)

Mario – “How Could You” (2005)

Mario brought his underrated vocals to Sessions @ AOL to perform his top-20 hit “How Could You” from his Turning Point album.

Keri Hilson – “Let Me Down / Beautiful Mistake” (2011)

Following the release of 2010’s No Boys Allowed, the singer-songwriter stormed Sessions to sing cuts off the new album including “Beautiful Mistake.”

Chrisette Michele – “Be Ok” (2009)

Fresh off the release of her album Epiphany, Michele revisited her I Am era with a sensational performance of “Be Ok.” The uptempo number won a Grammy in 2009 for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

Keyshia Cole – “Love” (2005)

Sporting her signature orange hair and a casual outfit, The Way it Is singer belted her powerful ballad “Love” for online viewers.

Monica – “It All Belongs to Me” (2012)

While this Rico Love-written track is a duet with Brandy, the New Life vocalist stripped down the record and took it on alone with some help from three backup singers.

Jennifer Hudson – “I Remember Me” (2011)

There are not many artists who can sit on a stool, sing their hearts out and still be on key. Jennifer Hudson is one of them. She delivered a stellar performance of “I Remember Me,” the title track of her 2011 album.

Tyrese – “Stay” (2012)

Tyrese accepted an Open Invitation to AOL Sessions in 2012 where he performed his soulful tune “Stay.” The song spent 11 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs chart.

Ashanti – “Rock wit U (Awww Baby)” (2003)

The then-Murder Inc front-women was on point with all aww babies for her first time at Sessions. And catch how Ashanti barely opened her eyes during this performance of “Rock wit U (Awww Baby).” We love a dizzy queen.

Faith Evans – “I Love You” (2005)

The First Lady had viewers in their feelings with “I Love You” from her 2001 album Faithfully. Did you peep Meelah, lead singer of 702, singing backup?

Toni Braxton – “He Wasn’t Man Enough” (2005)

The sultry tone diva came to Sessions to promote material from her Libra album. She also revisited The Heat era and sung “He Wasn’t Man Enough” alongside her sisters Trina and Tamar Braxton.

Fantasia – “Bittersweet” (2010)

Donning a black dress with silver shoulder embroidery, the Back to Me singer left it all on stage with her mind-blowing performance of “Bittersweet.” She reprised the emotionally charged ballad with more personal lyrics.

The-Dream – “I Luv Your Girl” (2013)

The Radio Killa paid a visit to AOL Sessions in 2013 to promote IV Play. While there, the versatile musician dropped the auto-tune and bared his natural singing voice for his wavy performance of “I Luv Your Girl” off his debut album, Love Hate.

Ne-Yo – “So Sick” (2006)

The singer-songwriter had us “So Sick” with his first-ever AOL Music Sessions visit. The heartbreak song topped several Billboard charts including the Hot 100 for two consecutive weeks.

Chris Brown – “Winner” (2006)

The young Breezy had girls all over the world screaming at their computer screens with his performance of “Winner” off his self-titled album.

Brian McKnight — “Back to One” (2003)

Brian McKnight was one of the first R&B artists to grace the AOL studio. He performed his classic song “Back at One” from his 1999 album under the same name.

Earth Wind & Fire – “The Way You Move” (2005)

Supported by a full band, the legendary group got us out our seats to dance along to “The Way You Move” from their 2005 Illumination album.

Kelly Rowland – “Like This” featuring Eve (2007)

Ms. Kelly invited rapper Eve to perform their fierce collaboration “Like This.” Hopefully, no one hurt themselves trying to reenact this dance number.

John Legend – “So High” (2004)

Seated behind his instrument of choice, Legend had us levitating as he wonderfully sung “So High” from his debut album, Get Lifted.

Alicia Keys – “Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” – (2010)

Alicia Keys rarely steps from behind her piano to perform music. But she did for the majority of her 2010 Sessions to perform past and present tunes including “Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” from The Element of Freedom.

Mary J. Blige – “Take Me As I Am” (2005)

It was all or nothing at all with the Queen of the Hip Hop Soul’s moving performance of “Take Me As I Am” from The Breakthrough.

Rihanna – “Unfaithful” (2007)

The Unapologetic artist starred on the Sessions for three album eras: A Girl Like Me, Good Girl Gone Bad and Rated R. Her amazing performance of “Unfaithful” in 2007 is a standout though.

Beyoncé – “Me, Myself and I” (2008)

Although she was there to promote B’Day and its singles (“Irreplaceable”), it was Yoncé’s breathing performance of “Me, Myself and I” alongside her incredible background singers The Mamas that stole the show.

Give up yet? The list of performances was ranked by the artists’ number of Grammy nominations. Beyoncé has the most (63) nods out of all the artists featured on this list while Mario and Keri Hilson have the least (2).

Monica’s ‘The Boy is Mine’ Album: Every Song Ranked 20 Years Later

On July 14, 1998 — just three days shy of the third anniversary of her debut album Miss Thang — Monica released her sophomore effort The Boy is Mine. The album was named after her uber-successful duet with fellow R&B teen Brandy who had released her second album a month prior.

While the title track was issued as the lead single for both vocalists project, they both followed up quickly with their own respective solo singles. “The First Night,” Monica’s second (first) single, was sent to radio a day before LP’s release date.

For The Boy is Mine, the 17-year-old singer defined the new batch of songs a “natural progression” from her debut. “I was 13; the themes weren’t as mature,” she told Billboard in a 1998 interview. “I’m trying to portray a more assertive young female. It’s fine to be a teen female, but there are certain decisions they must with assurance. I’m 17 now; my lyrics aren’t sexually explicit but are about love and being in love. I speak on those subjects for what I know them to be.”

Monica’s newfound maturity, enhanced confidence and tender outlook on relationships resonated with those in and out of love. The Boy is Mine entered the Billboard 200 at No. 8, selling 91,000 copies in its first week sales. The 13-track LP garnered multi-platinum success and a grand total of three number one singles (“The Boy is Mine,” “Angel of Mine” and “The First Night”) on the Billboard Hot 100.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Monica’s album The Boy is Mine, Rated R&B has ranked the songs from minimal rotation (worse) to heavy (best) rotation.

13. “Take Him Back”

Every album has its fillers and I guess this dull recording slipped through the track list cracks.

12. “‘Cross the Room”

Out of the LP’s 13-tracks, this party-starter anthem is definitely one that finds the crowd telling the DJ to turn it all the way down.

11. “Gone Be Fine” featuring Outkast

Even with tight production and a brief appearance from Outkast, something is still missing from what was supposed to be a bomb collaboration.

10. “I Keep It To Myself”

It’s a good song but the melody and chilled production of this dreamy slow jam sounds too similar to records from Xscape’s catalog.

9. “Right Here Waiting” featuring 112

Evidently, Monica’s then-label Artista had a point to prove to listeners and critics with a second cover of another classic. To be honest, it wasn’t necessary. It was an enjoyable remake, though.

8. “Misty Blue”

Monica deserves an applause for her stirring rendition of Dorothy Moore’s signature selection.

7. “Ring Da Bell”

Before Beyonce rang the alarm, Monica made noise with this Dallas Austin-produced track. On the verses, she used a slow and deliberate vocal approach to get her point across to her disrespectful lover.

6. “Inside”

On this emotionally-triggering ballad, Monica does a fantastic job flaunting her vocal range as she discusses the matters of the heart.

5. “Angel of Mine”

After listening to Monica’s two other covers on this album, this remake is in a league of its own. Her vocal poise almost shares similar singing moments of big-name vocalists.

4. “Street Symphony”

Like first impressions, the opening track on an album can set the tone for the rest of the project. As expected, Monica kept fans interested in hearing more of the album but not without getting us to press repeat on this underrated gem.

3. “The First Night”

Jermaine Dupri was in his bag with this one and Monica knew it. That’s why she rode the So So Def beat with a level of sophistication and street edge.

2. “The Boy is Mine” duet with Brandy

Yes, collecting numerous accolades and going number one is great but the question has always remained: who won the vocal catfight on this record? Let’s just say, “The song might be yours, but the album title is mine.”

1. “For You, I Will”

Ahead of Monica’s duet success with her teen counterpart, Monica had already bagged her own crossover hit. The Diane Warren-penned ballad, from the Space Jam soundtrack, solidified her place in pop culture.

Did we get the order right? Let us know.  Follow An’Twane on Twitter at @9thwonderofPR.

Brandy Advances to Series Regular for Season 3 of Fox’s ‘Star’

Brandy is sitting on ‘top of the world’ right now. The singer/actress, introduced on season two of Star, will be a series regular in the upcoming season.

Brandy joined the Lee Daniels’ hit series in 2017 on episode six as Carlotta’s (Queen Latifah) younger sister, Cassie Brown. It’s been learned that season three will be a “War of the Brown Sisters” as they vie for control of the Atlanta music scene.

Brandy revealed the exciting news on Instagram, along with a beautiful thank you letter. “Dear God, you never cease to listen to my prayers and you never cease to Amaze me. Thank you for all of your expected and unexpected blessings,” she wrote.

On the music side, Brandy is hard at work on her new album. The R&B vet is still in recording sessions with producer DJ Camper, who is expected to executive producer her upcoming project. “I’m going to make sure I don’t sing the wrong songs this time around,” she told Silent of TrueExclusives about her next album. “I can’t reach everybody if I don’t believe in the song and you don’t believe in yourself in the song.”

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