More Than a Woman is Toni Braxton's fifth studio album that was released on November 18, 2002 by Arista Records.
In 1992, Toni Braxton signed a solo recording contract with LaFace Records, a joint venture between the producing duo Antonio "L.A." Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds from former recording group The Deele, and distributor Arista Records.
Her subsequently released first two albums "Toni Braxon" (1993) and "Secrets" (1996) became critical and commercial hits and sold a combined 21 million copies, earning $170 million in worldwide sales.
By late 1996, Braxton was still waiting for fair financial rewards. Her recording contract with LaFace was substantially below those of other multi-platinum artists and bound her to refund all kinds of expenses the label had financed in advance, including management fees, taxes, and video budgets, earning Braxton a $1,972 royalty check only.
In December 1997, after learning that she accumulated more than $1 million in debts, Braxton became embroiled in a legal dispute with LaFace Records when she filed a lawsuit asking to be freed from her long-term contractual obligations to the label in the midst of a contract renegotiation.
After then being counter-sued by the label for breach of contract, she eventually filed for bankruptcy protection in 1998, a move that stalled all legal proceedings between the two parties.
In January 1999, Braxton mended her relationship with Reid and Babyface, when the lawsuit against LaFace was eventually settled after Braxton was awarded higher royalties, a pay raise, and publishing rights to all songs that she had co-written. Soon after, she resumed recording for "The Heat", her first album in four years.
In an attempt to move her away from Edmonds's formulaic ballad-driven and adult contemporary-oriented material on her previous albums to establish her relevance with a new generation of music consumers, Braxton took bigger control over the artistic steps on The Heat: She consulted a variety of writers and producers to work with her, including Rodney Jerkins, Bryan-Michael Cox, and Jazze Pha, and co-wrote seven of the 12 songs on the album.
Preceded by its uptempo lead single "He Wasn't Man Enough", LaFace Records released "The Heat" in April 2000, propelling Braxton back to the top of music charts. At a worldwide sales total in excess of 4 million copies however, the album was less successful than its predecessors.
Braxton began work on her fifth studio album in early 2002. Her then-husband Keri Lewis, former Mint Condition keyboardist, co-wrote and had a hand in producing four tracks, while her younger sister Tamar Braxton co-wrote six songs and provides backing vocals on all tracks.
- Let Me Show You The Way (Out) 4:19
- Give It Back (featuring Big Tymers) 3:38
- A Better Man 4:00
- Hit The Freeway (featuring Loon) 3:49
- Lies, Lies, Lies 5:10
- Rock Me, Roll Me 4:57
- Selfish 3:47
- Do You Remember When 4:03
- Me & My Boyfriend 3:44
- Tell Me 4:10
- And I Love You 4:02
- Always 4:29
"More Than a Woman" debuted and peaked at number 13 on the US Billboard 200, selling 98,000 copies in its first week, making it Toni Braxton's lowest opening sales for a non-Christmas-themed studio album up to then and was a considerable decline from her previous effort, "The Heat" (which had opened to sales of 199,000 units in 2000).
On Billboard's component charts, it reached number five on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, becoming Braxton's first solo album to miss the top spot.
In total, the album sold 438,000 copies and was eventually certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for the shipment of over 500,000 copies in the United States.
Elsewhere, "More Than a Woman" was unable to match the commercial success of Braxton's first three studio albums. While it failed to enter most international music markets, the album reached the top 40 of the German Albums Chart and debuted at number 23 on the Swiss Albums Chart.
Braxton considered the album a commercial "flop-flop." Disappointed by its underperformance and the little promotion activities Arista Records had arranged after releasing the first single "Hit the Freeway", Braxton requested her manager Barry Hankerson to obtain a release for her from any future recording obligations to the label.
On March 14, 2003, Braxton issued a press statement saying she was leaving Arista Records for Hankerson's Universal-distributed Blackground Records, on which she released her sixth studio album, "Libra" in 2005.
An ABC News article published in 2012 revealed Braxton's discontent with the success of the project when asked about the commercial failure of her albums from the mid to late 2000s, saying: "Those albums – that's like that one-night stand that you don't want to talk about. You don't want anyone to know about those records that didn't do well. I had a few of those. Definitely a few."
At Metacritic, "More Than a Woman" received a score of 77, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on eight reviews.
Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave to the album four stars out of five. He felt that More Than a Woman is "so consistent, so much a continuation of its predecessor, The Heat, that it may be hard to pinpoint distinctive characteristics."
He complained that "it lacks a single as undeniable as "He Wasn't Man Enough" [though] much of the album is in a similar sexy spirit."
Erlewine concluded the review, stating that " it was easily one of the most satisfying listens of its kind released that year, and another fine record by Toni Braxton."
Blender wrote a positive review, saying that "while her wailing contemporaries go off the rails with exaggeration, Braxton merely tightens her groove and rides these mellow, meaty melodies."
Chuck Arnold wrote for People that "her sultry, husky alto shines as she bends and jazzily twists notes with that special Toni touch." Arnold realized that "Although the rest of the album doesn't quite match that quality, it's still easily More than your average R&B-pop fare."
Launch.com was positive towards the theme of the songs, writing that "all this anger's not just therapeutic – it also makes her transition to hard hip-hop diva seem sensible, instead of just a marketing move, by grounding it in something real."
Keysha Davis from BBC Music thought that "More Than a Woman" would "sell bucket-loads." She praised Braxton for serving "both middle-of-the-road listeners with her high-powered ballads, as well the comrades of the streets with her attitude-ridden take on modern day living."
While discussing the album's hip hop songs, Chris Willman from Entertainment Weekly wrote that "she has sudden hip-hop pretensions, it's low-key hip-hop, the electronic throbs provides a surprisingly suitable bed for her controlled boudoir cooing."
While comparing the album between her previous release, "The Heat", he called it "hotter than her predominantly adult contemporary previous album" and concluded writing that the album "proves to be the singer's most consistent effort" since her self-titled 1993 debut album.