Tamar Braxton’s breakthrough in 2013 could not have been more timely. In retrospect, after multi-decade runs of dominance, the state of R&B, by all reports, had become a controversial case for varying reasons at the time. Most notably, once prominent R&B-centric major and boutique labels and imprints dissolved due to the great merger with RCA Records.
Also, the continued marginalization of R&B made it impractical for purists, new and seasoned, to compete with those who scoured electronic and dance-adjacent scenes to brand quasi-R&B and digitized vocals as the future.
Thankfully, Braxton and a few brave others went against the grain to sustain the genre by catering to R&B purists.
Before Love & War surfaced, Braxton was not unexposed to the music industry, having been linked to the legacy of the enduring Toni Braxton. With that unsolicited cosign many years prior, she released a solo album aptly titled Tamar in 2000.
Though Braxton’s DreamWorks debut didn’t live up to the expectations, solo greatness remained the heartbeat that kept her invested in music. She continued to co-write music and sing background for her famous sister on albums in the 2000s, including the beloved Libra.
Once on reality TV and Epic Records, Braxton generated a solid name in her own right with the song “Love & War.” The DJ Camper-produced ballad went to number one on the R&B charts for nine weeks, just five months ahead of its parent album that premiered in September 2013.
Two other respectable, proper albums followed, one of which was the well-rounded Calling All Lovers, plus a standalone seasonal effort.
Then, after planning to forge a fruitful music career following the Bluebird of Happiness campaign, she reclaimed a rightful throne in 2020 with “Crazy Kind of Love.” The Whitney Houston-influenced song peaked at No. 2 on R&B charts, notching Braxton a seventh top 10 hit.
With two new albums reportedly in the works, and fans waiting to hear and see what she has left in the can, Rated R&B honors Tamar Braxton by sharing 10 of her most underrated songs.
“Free Fallin'” — Calling All Lovers (2015)
Producer: Brandon “B.A.M.” Hodge
Writers: Tamar Braxton and Muhammad Ayers
There is absolutely nothing about this key Calling All Lovers standout that fell flat. Full of beaming lyrics, this breathtaking confection hears Tamar suspended from zion, tapping into supernatural vocal abilities. Consider making this a wedding song.
“Words” — Tamar (2000)
Producer: Christopher “Tricky” Stewart
Writers: Tim & Bob (Tim Kelley and Bob Robinson)
Tim Kelley and Bob Robinson touch several tracks on Tamar, but none more precious than the slow jam “Words.” After going without a past lover in her life, Tamar finds herself searching for creative ways to allude that she wants and needs him back around.
“White Candle” — Love and War (2013)
Producer: Eric Mobley
Writers: Tamar Braxton, Tiyon “TC” Mack, Eric Mobley, and Ursula Yancy
With no more than gentle guitar strums and a piano backing this call for a fresh start, Tamar thoughtfully sings about starting anew with her partner before their love fizzles out. It’s one of the best songs in the second half of Love & War.
“My Forever” — Bluebird of Happiness (2017)
Producers: Jevon Hall and Stanley Black
Writers: Tamar Braxton, Tiyon “TC” Mack and Shinique Owens
From the onset of Tamar’s said-to-be final album, she came out the door swinging. She is in perfect control of her voice, frequently showing the elasticity of her blithe range throughout this enchanting love song. The songwriting here proffers memories at the altar and how she is fully invested in having a monogamous forever with her man.
“Angels & Demons” — Calling All Lovers (2015)
Producers: Mel & Mus (Melvin Hough and Rivelino Wouter)
Writers: Tamar Braxton, Atozzio Towns, Edsel Alexander, Kameron Glasper and Tiyon “TC” Mack
Production duo Mel & Mus contribute the reggae-flavored backdrop for the nerve-racking uncertainty of yet another hot album opener by Tamar. Experiencing fogged vision, she desperately tries to figure out the next direction of a confusing love she isn’t willing to let go.
“Money Can’t Buy You Love” — Tamar (2000)
Producer: Darrell Delite Allamby
Writers: Darrell E. Allamby and Lincoln Browder
If you’re a quality type of woman, then having that in a partner is only fitting. Tamar seems eager to bag a man who could add to her worth without being stingy with splurging from time to time. She doesn’t sound off bad here either, other than naturally sounding her age.
“Try Me” — Kingdom Come: The Soundtrack (2001)
Producer: Kirk Franklin
Writer: Kirk Franklin
Tamar deserves to be featured on more soundtracks and give us more gospel music. In spring 2001, she teamed with Kirk Franklin’s group One Nation Crew for an inspirational song rooted in positive words of encouragement and comfort for a friend in need.
“King” — Calling All Lovers (2015)
Producers: Tamar Braxton and Tiffany Red (formerly known as Tiffany Fred)
Writers: Tamar Braxton and Tiffany Red (formerly known as Tiffany Fred)
While this theatrical piano ballad was never treated as a true Calling All Lovers single, by looking at Tamar’s television performances, no one can deny that she wanted it to be the album’s feature attraction. It’s a shame it didn’t cause a dent on the R&B charts.
“Black Tears” — Love & War (Bonus Track, 2013)
Writers: Tamar Braxton and Tiyon “TC” Mack
Of course, not every song recorded for an album can make the tracklist. That’s why artists partner with different retailers such as Best Buy to offer exclusive bonus tracks. Tamar did so, but there should have been some sort of expectation to the rule with this winning number. It should have been on the original edition. Just listen to the harmonies. She ate.
“How I Feel” — Bluebird of Happiness (2017)
Producers: Damon Thomas and Vincent Berry II
Writers: Tamar Braxton, Vincent Berry II, Mike Jiminez and Malcolm Harvest
Tamar needs nothing more than a piano to command a room with her sweet vocal instrument. She wails with a natural, flowing grace on this powerhouse ballad, calmly asking a dubious partner to be present in a one-sided courtship.