I Can't Call It: Love, Marriage and Divorce - Toni Braxton and Babyface

Posted On Friday, February 28, 2014

Expectations are tricky things to manage. If you expect too much and don’t get what you expected then you’re pissed. BUT if you don’t have any expectations and you get something that’s just aiight, you treat it like gold. So with all of that said, I’ve got HUGE expectations for this new Toni Braxton and Babyface album. Now I’m sure that some of ya’ll (more like most of ya’ll) are looking at me like I’m crazy since neither one of those two names haven’t rang any bells in the music game for the past 15 years but for me, I’ve ALWAYS loved Toni Braxton’s voice and I’ve always felt like she was an incredible talent. Shorty has a beautiful, yet distinctive voice and she has her own style. In other words, when you hear Toni singing, you KNOW it’s Toni singing. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, that it’s like Guru said, “it’s mostly the voice.” And Toni’s got that part locked down.

To me, Toni’s recent problems in the game has been her production and her alienating her core fan base. The production part is kinda self explanatory which is why I’m so hype that she’s getting back with Babyface (even though dude hasn’t had a hit in 15+ years) but what I mean by alienating her core fan base is that when Toni dropped in ’91 with “Love Should’ve Brought You Home” off the “Boomerang” soundtrack most of her fans were probably women who were 16-30 year olds. And those 16-30 year olds are now 39-53 years old who are now married, in relationships, mothers, divorced, etc. And for the married/in a relationship women, there’s nothing that a married woman with 3 kids who’s struggling to lose weight hates more then seeing some skinny chick half naked in videos while her husband drools staring at Toni on TV in her newest video. Naw, she ain’t too happy about that. Plus it always seemed like Toni was trying to keep up with whatever was hot at that time. Rich Harrison gives Amerie “One Thing” and it’s a hit? Next thing Toni has a Rich Harrison beat that sounds JUST like Amerie’s. (see: “Take This Ring”) Instead of beat biting, Toni should’ve been at the forefront leading the way for this new generation of adult contemporary R&B listeners but she definitely shouldn’t have been trying to keep up with that 106 & Park crowd cause that fan base could care less about Toni. They’re looking at her the same way a teenage daughter looks at her mom when she’s trying to dress “cool.”

So, back to the reasons why I’m so hype. Number one, I’m hype that Face & Toni are linking back up to work on an entire album together. It’s the same feeling I had when word got to ear that Common and No ID were working together on “The Dreamer, The Believer.” To me there’s something organic about an artist working with one producer that I believes helps to create better music. I’ll ALWAYS take that method over the “Illmatic” way of making an album, which is just grabbing all of the hottest producers at the time. Yeah, it worked for Nas but it’s failed TOO many times to mention for other folk…it’s too many cooks in the kitchen if you ask me. Plus when I heard the album’s title was gonna be “Love, Marriage and Divorce” AND it was gonna be a concept album about the whole hoopla of what goes on between the love and the divorce part, I got even more excited. I felt like THIS is the Toni her core fan base has been waiting 10+ years to hear from her. But back to those tricky expectations things, for me there’s absolutely no way I’m expecting this to sound like Toni’s or Babyface’s debut albums there dropped more then 20 years ago. Naw…I ain’t THAT crazy but I do expect to hear two of my favorite singers/producers collabos come up with some REAL dope, quality R&B.

“Roller Coaster” sets off “Love, Marriage and Divorce” and it the perfect description of what the game of love is all about. Face sets it off with “today I got so mad at you, it’s like I couldn’t control myself/girl I was done, I was so through with you/but I knew I couldn’t love nobody else” and Toni comes in with “well I feel like you do, I’m so bout done with you/I’m sick and tired of going through changes/cause I love you, hate you/don’t want but want too/back and forth and back, what should we do/when love is like a roller coaster, always up and down.” “Sweat” give you a dope alternative to beefing with your significant other, “if you really wanna fight, we can take it to the bed tonight, let’s sweat it out/and if you really wanna scream, I can make you scream tonight, let’s sweat it out/through the good, through the bad, be the best fight you ever had/make you say ohhh, forget that you were ever mad.” The duo’s first single, “Hurt You” epitomizes how most folk get down in their relationships, Face explains “damn here we go again, loving you has cause me so much pain/but you don’t see it, never see it” and Toni comes back with “so why apologize, I was just doing what I had to do baby/an eye for an eye/God knows I never meant to hurt you” and “Where Did Where Go Wrong” is the next episode in the saga with lines like “from the very start, I was so into you/from the beginning I was oh so feeling you/but you thought I cheated, played around on you/but didn’t you do the same, didn’t you, didn’t you” breaking down where the drama started and then Toni comes back with “Gotta tell you baby, I gotta let you know the deal/you drew first blood baby, if we’re gonna keep it real/when you cheated, how you hurt me so/you broke my heart didn’t you.”

Face’s solo cut off the album “I Hope You’re OK” explains why he’s bouncing from the relationship, “you know I love you, but I really don’t see this thing happening anymore/you know I love you, but I really don’t think this is worth fighting for/and although I love you, there’s something I need to say, I done thought a lot about it/and I think I’m gonna leave today, but I hope that you’re ok” and ya’ll know Toni gotta come back with the heat cause what black woman is gonna fall back after hearing your man is bouncing on you? Over a beautiful piano driven track Toni drops her jewels on “I Wish” where she says “I wish she breaks you heart like you did me, I hope you’re unhappy/and I hope she gives you a disease, so that you will see/but not enough to make you die/but just enough to make you cry like you did me.” Damn Toni…a disease?!?!? “Take It Back” is a mellow banger that beat wise is in the same vein of Sade’s “By Your Side” and has Toni & Face contemplating hitting the reset button like we all try to do when the break up’s becoming a reality “if we do not like out story, we can write it just the way we want/take it back to the days of glory, and the moonlit nights of making love/I just need to know, you wanna go.” “Reunited” has these two linking back up but we’ve all seen Love Jones before right? So we know it’s not gonna last. It’s like when Nina got back with “ole boy” and she had her epiphany after the toasted oats fight when she realizes that “all we have is all of these years, and it’s just not enough…anymore.” Welp, Toni comes to that conclusion on the banger “I’d Rather Be Broke”, “baby I’ve been thinking, been in this thing too long/I wanna be through, I’m sick and tired of you/and lately I’ve been thinking, just because your money’s strong/don’t mean you can do, the things that you do/just so you know, I did everything/in case you don’t, let me tell you this/I’m tried of spending all of my time, waiting on your dime, and getting lovin’ half the time/I’d rather be broke then with you.” Damn Toni…broke?!?!?

“Heart Attack” is the only uptempo cut on the album and trust that it’s a banger and has Face up in the club, “I saw her walk in, I said who’s that lady at the door/feel like I know her, I swear I’ve seen that walk before/so I got closer to see what’s going down/she was with someone else/I was kinda freaking out” and you KNOW Toni comes back her swag on 100, “I see you looking and wishing/don’t act like you don’t want it again/you know you want it back, that’s why you about to have a heart attack.” “The D Word” ends the album on a perfect note and drives the final nail in this relationship “I put the papers on the doorstep, the keys under the mat/although the lawyer said to mail it/I’m still not over you/there’s so much I want to tell you, but I really need to forget/even though we’re not together/I miss you, though it breaks my heart, I will miss you.”

So did “Love, Marriage and Divorce” meet my expectations? No doubt. Like I said, I wasn’t looking for the “Tender Lover” or “Waiting to Exhale Soundtrack” mind blowing type of production from Face because to me, that time is behind him. Face is like that veteran ball player who used to drop 35 pts with his eyes closed but at this point in his career you just need him to be solid with the ball, give you 10-15 pts off the bench and make those veteran plays and that’s exactly what Face does on “Love, Marriage…” And don’t even get me started on Toni. Shorty sounds just as good as she did when she first dropped back in ’91. Now, don’t get it twisted, I can’t say there are any “anthems” on here like “Love Should’ve Brought You Home” and “Seven Whole Days” but you can best believe there are some SOLID bangers on this album and at the end of the day, I wouldn’t expect anything less from these two.

4 outta 5 mics

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