I Can't Call It: Sex & Cigarettes - Toni Braxton

Posted On Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Toni Braxton is my favorite singer from the 90's. Yup you read that right, no need to read it again. And whenever I say that it always shocks folk because they probably assume cause of my love for hip hop that it would be Mary J. but nah...it's Ms. Braxton. For some reason, I've ALWAYS loved Toni's voice. Probably because my fave singer of the 80's was Anita Baker and Toni was like my generation's Anita with that deep singing voice those two got on lock. Plus I loved the fact that Toni and Face were like the Pete and CL of R&B and that shorty wasn't just making songs...she was making anthems! Seven Whole Days, Love Should've Brought You Home, Breath Again, You Mean The World To Me...these jawns were flat out incredible! The songwriting, the production, the singing were about as perfect as you could get. But throughout the years Toni has never been able to match the magic of that debut album. Now don't get it twisted, she's made a lot of dope songs here and there but being able to have a complete album that's even close to 5 mics...nah. So when word got to ear that Toni had a new album coming out I didn't even pay it any mind. Especially now that she's with Birdman cause I didn't know what the hell to expect. But shorty is my fave singer so I gotta at least give this new album "Sex & Cigarettes" a spin right?

"Sex & Cigarettes" sets off with the album's first single "Deadwood" and has Toni speaking about ole boy leaving her for dead but letting him know that she'll bounce back while "Sex & Cigarettes" speaks on a dude who's out in these streets creeping on Toni, "you make me crazy, I swear you act like you hate me/how can you tell me I love you, then do the things you do/at least try to lie to me, instead you come straight to our bed smelling like sex and cigarettes." Now the song is dope but the whole "sex & cigarettes" vibe feels like something from the 50's. I feel like nowadays it would be something like sex & weed or sex & patron but regardless the song is still dope. The albums' second single "Long As I Live" has Toni trying to figure out how to get over an ex who's moved on "I can tell by the look on your face, you really like her that way/and now I'm trying not to lose my mind and start crying, but I can tell That you love her, you really love her" and "Sorry" has Toni taking accountability for allowing  dude in her life in the first place, "I’m sorry that I let you, I just should’ve walked away/I’m sorry that I let you In my life and made you stay."

"My Heart" has Toni telling her dude that's she's had enough and that she's done and "Coping" has Toni taking the next step in getting past the break up and how she's trying to get over her ex, "wake up in the morning and I'm by myself, sad and so depressed since you left/I hate to think you're smiling with somebody else, and I know you'll never love me again/and I try and pretend that it's all okay, that I'm doing better without you/getting harder and harder every day, but I'm just trying to make it through." But it's no coincidence that my fave song on the album is the Darryl Simmons and Babyface produced "FOH" that has Toni in rare form. "It’s been 47 hours, seven minutes, 30 seconds and now you’re just responding to me/boy, you must be suicidal Is that bitch right there beside you, cause I know hell it couldn’t be me/tell me who you think you are I'm a motherfuckin star, say what, what’s it gonna be/cause I’m in love with you now, are you in or you out, cause I really need you here/if you don't want me around, then don’t come around, and cloud up my atmosphere fuck outta here." 'Nuff said.

So with "Sex & Cigarettes" I finally get the Toni Braxton album I've been waiting 20+ years for with Toni talking about heartbreak and pain and not tying to shut down the club like she's 21. But even though I dig 90% of the album, I won't hold you, it leaves me wanting more. And it's not the fact that it's only 8 songs because I'm not mad at all. In fact 8-10 is the perfect amount of songs for albums in 2018 in my opinion but it's like these songs don't jump out at me like I expected them to. And the wild part is these songs are good. I mean damn good but maybe I gotta lower my expectations of Ms. Braxton cause I'm STILL comparing everything she does to the first album and I gotta come to the realization we're never getting anything THAT dope outta Toni anymore. But I guess I just need to be happy that Birdman and the 9th Ward aren't all over this album like Puff was in his artists' videos back in the 90's and that we've got Toni singing about love and heartbreak again and at the end of the day, if you were a fan of the first album who could really be mad at that?

3.5 outta 5 mics

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