Ranking The Best Toni Braxton Albums

Did y’all check out Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart” biopic on Lifetime Saturday night?

It was pretty decent by Lifetime standards — which means it wasn’t the raging dumpster fire we were expecting. I guess it helps when the featured artist has a hand in the finished product, instead of leaving it solely in the manly hands of Wendy Williams. 

In recent years, Toni’s star has been overshadowed by her sister Tamar and her reality show shenanigans but make no mistake, young’ns, Toni Braxton is one of the biggest artists in R&B history. Yes, HISTORY — 67 million albums sales prove it.

Since Lifetime has reminded us of Toni’s greatness, allow your boy to give a bit more insight into her career. Let’s count down Toni’s discography, leading up to her best work. By the way, this list excludes her two Christmas albums (both of which were surprisingly excellent).

Before the reality shows and tax drama, all we had was Toni’s music. And it was awesome.

more than a woman

7. More Than A Woman (2002)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: During the “Beyond the Headlines” documentary that aired after Braxton’s biopic (which was even better than the movie), Toni admitted that More Than a Woman is her least favorite album. It’s not hard to understand why — it’s my least favorite Toni album too. Toni seemed uncharacteristically weary and unsure of herself on many of the tracks here. According to the documentary, she just wasn’t comfortable with the hip-hop heavy sound her label thrust upon her. It shows. Still, the album is far from a disaster, featuring a few standouts.

Forgotten favorites: “Hit the Freeway,” “Let Me Show You the Way (Out),” “Tell Me”

pulse

6. Pulse (2010)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Toni’s most recent solo outing got lost in the shuffle of other releases that year but it’s a pretty solid effort that still holds up. True, the set is sorely lacking a standout hit but the mix of old-school balladeering and modern pop tracks gel nicely. There’s lots to love here.

Forgotten favorites: “Hands Tied,” “Yesterday,” “Pulse”

libra

5. Libra (2005)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: I’m not sure why this album flew under R&B’s radar but man, y’all missed a banger. At just 10 tracks, Libra is very lean yet fulfilling, deftly balancing beautiful ballads, bedroom burners and uptempo club bangers. “Take This Ring” alone will make me Carlton dance ON TOP OF MY DESK. Libra’s brief running time does feel a bit too abbreviated but this stands as Toni’s most underrated gem.

Forgotten favorites: “Trippin’ (That’s the Way Love Works),” “Sposed to Be,” and lawd “TAKE THIS RING”

the heat

4. The Heat (2000)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Toni’s comeback party. By the turn of the century, Toni was more known for debts than her discography (don’t utter the words “Oprah” and “Gucci silverware” in her presence if you value your life). But on her third album, Toni proved that good music will drown out gossip every time. Returning with a more urban sound (thanks to hitmakers like Jazze Pha and Rodney Jerkins), Toni sounded fresh and rejuvenated, proving to be one of R&B’s preeminent voices.

Forgotten favorites: “Spanish Guitar,” “Just Be A Man About It,” “The Heat”

Love,marriage&divorce

3. Love, Marriage & Divorce (2014)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5  (read our review here)

Edd said: Younger fans might not appreciate its magnitude, but Love, Marriage & Divorce is a dream album. The careers of both Toni Braxton and Babyface are so intertwined that their names are synonymous with each other. But outside of writing credits or occasional background vocals, it was very rare to hear those two voices share mic time. Love, Marriage & Divorce is a duets album two decades in the making and it’s as emotionally bombastic as you’d expect. Yes, the album lacked that one mega-hit that would launch it into immortality, but even without it, the set lives up to years of hype. It’s among the strongest R&B releases of the past five years.

Forgotten favorites: “The D Word,” “Sweat,” “Roller Coaster”

secrets

2. Secrets (1996)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: This summer marks the 20-year anniversary of Toni’s landmark sophomore album. 15 million sales later, I think its legacy is intact. Toni floats from flirtatious hip-hop (“You’re Makin’ Me High”) to heart-wrenching pop masterpieces (“Un-Break My Heart”) effortlessly. Pain never sounded more beautiful. Unquestionably, Secrets stands as Toni’s definitive album, yet despite its triumphs, it’s still not her best.

Forgotten favorites: “I Love Me Some Him,” “Let It Flow,” “I Don’t Want To”

toni braxton

1. Toni Braxton (1993)

Soul In Stereo rating: 5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Toni had the weight of the world on her shoulders following her head-turning appearances on the 1992 Boomerang soundtrack. The bar had been raised impossibly high — and Toni hurdled it with ease. I’ve always waved off declarations of “flawless albums” — even history’s most beloved albums have holes if you look long enough. But it’s hard for even me to find flaws in Toni’s 1993 debut, an album so air-tight that nearly every track was featured on radio at some point.  It’s not only Toni’s greatest personal accomplishment, it’s one of the best debut albums in R&B history.

Forgotten favorites: “Candlelight,” “How Many Ways,” “Love Affair”

What are your favorite Toni albums? Let a brother know below.

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4 Comments

  1. I wholeheartedly agree that Toni’s debut album is her best (as well as the short haircut of that era)! I still rock it to this day and ‘Love Shoulda Brought You Home’ will always be my favorite Toni Braxton song. I lost track of her music after The Heat, so can’t comment on those rankings (though you’ve inspired me to at least check out Libra and her Xmas albums) but also think Secrets and The Heat were her 2nd and 3rd best as well. Minor fix, if you ever see this: under the Love, Marriage & Divorce entry, it reads: “Yes, the album lacked that one mega-hit that would launch it into immorality…” Did you mean ‘immortality’? Lol, I’m a copy editor by profession so I’m probably the one random person who’d notice something like that;)

  2. Not sure how I ended back at this post BUT I have to say, based on this list I decided to give Love, Marriage & Divorce a try. So I listened. And listened. And I’ve kept listening. Like, I’m listening to it at work right now, lol. Not sure how I missed this album when it came out! Not only is it a great R&B album but I love how it sounds both “old school” and contemporary at the same time. And, gah, I miss Toni’s voice! Just wanted to be random and share:)

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