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'Love, Marriage & Divorce' highlights the best of Toni Braxton, Babyface

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'Love Marriage & Divorce' album (released in February 2014)

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These days R&B artists are constantly putting a rapper on a song or trying to rap themselves just to get on the Billboard charts, but R&B artists Toni Braxton and Babyface rose to the top 10 defying this trend with their new album "Love, Marriage & Divorce."

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Sometimes putting two solo music geniuses together sounds like a great idea until personalities clash (ex. R. Kelly and Jay Z). Other times both artists are so good at collaborations that listeners want them to do more than one song (ex. Drake and Trey Songz). And then a few R&B artists put a rapper on a song and it ruins the entire track (ex. John Legend's "Tonight/Best I Ever Had").

But putting two stellar R&B solo artists together to share the spotlight can be tricky. Will one outshine the other? Will their voices mesh well? Will the next generation even want to listen? Will egos collide about who'll sing backup?

In the case of Toni Braxton and Babyface, the answers are no, yes, yes and no. "Love, Marriage & Divorce" is the perfect combination to remind R&B lovers how beautiful the music is with those who understand the soul and urgency of it. And their flirty relationship on song and brother-sister relationship in person certainly helps makes the album that much more appealing.

Listeners don't even have to be married to relate to this one. Anyone who has been in a bumpy relationship will not only relate to the songs but blast them, too.

For songs dealing with the frustration of arguing and wondering if the relationship is even worth it, "Roller Coaster," "Hurt You," "Where Did We Go Wrong," "I Wish" and "The D Word" are the songs of choice. Although it's a bit on the weird side that Toni wanted to sing the words to what her mother, Evelyn Braxton, wished on her father (to get a disease) during their divorce, it's not like people in a relationship haven't wished worse on the other party during the worst of times. Maturity isn't at all all-time high when someone has pushed the temper button.

For the good times and always embraced sexy moments, "Sweat" will get listeners in the mood. How fun is it to take out the fight in the bedroom? Toni and Babyface croon, "I can make you scream tonight," but only in the best way. And the instrumental behind them is enough to stop making out long enough to dance around -- or do both at the same time. "Sweat" is screaming out for the two-step. "Let's Do It" is a Cheshire smile to remembering what the lovemaking was like.

"Take It Back," "Heart Attack" and "Reunited" are the songs that get couples in trouble. It'll make them remember why they started dating in the first place and ponder on whether they should give love another shot. And "One" is an easy choice for the first dance during a wedding reception.

But when enough is enough and listeners are ready to get out of dodge, "I Hope That You're Okay" and "I'd Rather Be Broke" will instigate the breakup.

Superstitious people believe 13 is an unlucky number but not for this album. All 13 songs, including the two bonus tracks "Let's Do It" and "One," are worth not only playing to completion but putting on repeat.

There's a plethora of R&B songs with a hip-hop artist doing a guest appearance, but veteran artists realize that sometimes the smooth lane is better than the fast lane. As cool as some of today's R&B/hip-hop collabos are, "Love, Marriage & Divorce" reminds listeners that it's okay to just have soul. This CD takes it back to a time when R&B was really about rhythm, blues and celebrating all stages of love without vulgarity, vocoders, autotune or a catchy dance to attract those with a short attention span.

"Love, Marriage & Divorce" relies solely on the lyrics, magnetic beats that don't overpower the singers' voices and outstanding voices to create a flawless product.

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Shamontiel's Music Reviews

Shamontiel is also The Wire Examiner, and for the gladiators, she's the Scandal Examiner, too.

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