If I Don't Have You

"If I Don't Have You" is a song by American singer Tamar Braxton. It was released on May 27, 2015 as a digital download through Epic and Streamline Records, replacing "Let Me Know" (2014) as the lead single from Braxton's fourth studio album Calling All Lovers. The song was written by Braxton, Kevin Randolph, Tony Russell, Makeba Riddick-Woods, Ernest Clark, Marcos Palacios, LaShawn Daniels, and Tiyon "TC" Mack, while production was handled by Da Internz.

"If I Don't Have You"
A newspaper clipping with the song title and lyrics.
Single by Tamar Braxton
from the album Calling All Lovers
ReleasedMay 27, 2015 (2015-05-27)
Recorded2014
Genre
Length4:12
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Da Internz
Tamar Braxton singles chronology
"Let Me Know"
(2014)
"If I Don't Have You"
(2015)
"My Man"
(2017)
Music video
"If I Don't Have You" on YouTube

"If I Don't Have You" is a mid-tempo R&B ballad with lyrics revolving around unrequited love and the end of a relationship. Braxton said that the single was partially inspired by her past romantic relationships, and emphasized the importance of transparency with oneself. Critical response to "If I Don't Have You" was positive, with critics praising its composition. It received a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. The single peaked at number 18 on the Hot R&B Songs Billboard chart and number 19 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay Billboard chart.

In an accompanying music video released on June 9, 2015, Braxton plays a prostitute who develops a one-sided relationship with one of her clients. The visual features American television personality NeNe Leakes as the brothel's madam. Even though the song focuses on a romantic relationship, the video does not include a male lead. The clip received positive responses from critics.

Background and releaseEdit

"If I Don't Have You" was written by Tamar Braxton, Kevin Randolph, Tony Russell, Makeba Riddick-Woods, Ernest Clark, Marcos Palacios, LaShawn Daniels, and Tiyon "TC" Mack; the song was produced by Da Internz. The audio was mixed by Mack, and Gene Gremaldi worked as the mastering engineer.[1]

The song was made available on May 27, 2015 as a digital download through Epic and Streamline Records. It was promoted as the lead single from Braxton's fourth studio album Calling All Lovers.[2] Braxton's 2014 song "Let Me Know" was initially designated as the album's lead single before it was replaced by "If I Don't Have You".[3] The release was scheduled alongside the premiere of the fourth season of the reality television series Braxton Family Values.[4] Prior to the release of "If I Don't Have You", Braxton had posted the hashtag "#TamartianSurprise" on her social media accounts.[5]

Composition and lyricsEdit

"If I Don't Have You" is a mid-tempo R&B ballad that lasts four minutes and 12 seconds.[1][3][7] Brent Faulkner of PopMatters viewed the single as a "throwback soul record".[6] The instrumental includes a piano,[8] and the song focuses on unrequited love and the end of a relationship.[9] Lyrics include: “You should know if I don’t have you, Rocks me to the core / I can’t love no more / If I don’t have you, know I’m done for sure / Nobody worth fighting for.”[5][10] Throughout the single, Braxton uses her upper register to sing: "I can't love no more / If I don't have you / Know I'm done for sure / Nobody worth fighting for" and "I'm tired of these walls / That's on my life / I'll lose my mind if I don't have you."[8]

According to Essence's Imani Brammer, "If I Don't Have You" functions as an "ode to vulnerability and honesty". Braxton explained: "The whole vibe of 'If I Don't Have You' is about being transparent, being aware with yourself."[11] The singer also connected the single's content with her past romantic relationships by commenting: "I have nothing to hide about how I feel. Before I was married I kissed a lot of frogs and ogres, I talk about those experiences candidly."[12]

ReceptionEdit

Critical reception towards "If I Don't Have You" was primarily positive upon its release. It received a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.[13] The song received positive comparisons to Keyshia Cole's 2013 single "I Choose You" and Alicia Keys' 2003 song "You Don't Know My Name".[6][8] In a review for Calling All Lovers, Diamond Hillyer of Vibe praised the song's composition as "sprightly instrumentals" that would appeal to listeners.[9] Matthew Scott Donnelly of PopCrush wrote that the track was appropriate for those who are in "the mood for a good cry (or perhaps an all-out profound wail)".[8] Idolator's Mike Wass praised Braxton's vocals on the single,[3] but later reassessed "If I Don't Have You" as a "little undercooked" in comparison to other tracks on Calling All Lovers.[14]

"If I Don't Have You" peaked at number 18 on the Hot R&B Songs Billboard chart on August 1, 2015, and remained on the chart for eight weeks.[15] It also reached number 19 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay Billboard chart on August 15, 2015, and stayed on the chart for 19 weeks.[16]

Music video and promotionEdit

Music videoEdit

 
Playing the brothel's madam, NeNe Leakes provides elements of camp to the video.[17] Braxton said that Leakes was the first person to be cast in the visuals, and she considered her to be an integral part when preparing its premise.[18]

A lyric video for the single was released on June 11, 2015. The lyrics are displayed on a series of black-and-white newspaper clippings and colored graphics.[19] The single's cover art also includes the chorus and the first verse.[20] An accompanying music video, directed by Darren Craig, was made available through Braxton's Vevo account on July 9, 2015, approximately two months following the single's release.[7] Prior to its premiere, Braxton had shown a preview on her official website.[21]

The music video takes place in a brothel,[7] in which the singer plays one of its prostitutes, along with her close friends Shateria Moragne-el, Khadijah Hagg, and Malika Haqq in similar roles.[11][22] While discussing her character in the visual's narrative, Braxton explained "it doesn't necessarily mean that we're selling ourselves. It just means we're all looking for something".[22] In the video, Braxton develops a one-sided relationship with one of the clients.[23] A majority of the clip focuses on Braxton performing the song while modeling.[7] It ends with the singer left alone while crying about her lost love.[17] Even though the single's lyrics focus on missing a romantic partner, the video does not prominently feature a male lead.[7] Braxton's mother also appears in the visual as one of the brothel's customers.[9][17]

American television personality NeNe Leakes appears as the brothel's madam in the video's opening sequence.[7] In the visual, Nene orders Braxton and the other women to "get on their backs and make her money". Afiya Augustine noted that Nene's performance was heavily influenced by camp.[17] During an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Braxton said that Leakes was the first person to call to participate in the video; she explained that if Leakes was unable to play the madam, then she would have altered the entire concept for the visuals.[18] Braxton said that she intentionally made the time period for the video ambiguous to read as either the 1930s or 2015.[22] When writing about the video's style, Wetpaint's Afiya Augustine attributed it as having a "jazzy, art deco, 1920s feel".[17] Sophie Schillaci of Entertainment Tonight connected the video with the 1989 film Harlem Nights.[22]

The video received positive responses from critics. While he questioned how the visuals matched the song, Kevin Apaza of Direct Lyrics praised Braxton's wardrobe and appearance, writing that she "serv[ed] body, face and life throughout the whole of it".[7] The clip was noted as having "diva-driven cinematic visuals" by Diamond Hillyer.[9]

Live performanceEdit

Braxton performed "If I Don't Have You" on the BET Awards 2015, along with American singers K. Michelle and Patti LaBelle. As part of the performance, Michelle sang her 2015 single "Hard to Do" and the three artists performed LaBelle's 1983 single "If Only You Knew".[24] The performance was noted by media outlets as ending the rivalry between Braxton and Michelle;[24][25] Braxton said: “Life is all about forgiveness, love, and unity, so tonight, I’m sorry K. Michelle, and I also forgive you.”[24] The two artists previously had disagreements after Braxton joked about Michelle's allegations that she was physically abused by her ex-boyfriend.[26] A writer for BET described the performance as a "battle of the ballads".[25]

Track listingEdit

Digital download[4]
No.TitleLength
1."If I Don't Have You"4:12

Credits and personnelEdit

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Calling All Lovers.[1]

Management

Personnel

  • Songwriting – Tamar Braxton, Kevin Randolph, Tony Russell, Makeba Riddick-Woods, Ernest Clark, Marcos Palacios, LaShawn Daniels, and Tiyon "TC" Mack
  • Production – Da Internz
  • Mixing – Tiyon "TC" Mack
  • Mastering engineer – Gene Gremaldi

ChartsEdit

Chart (2015) Peak
position
US Hot R&B Songs (Billboard)[15] 18
US R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay (Billboard)[16] 19

Release historyEdit

Region Date Format Label Ref
Worldwide May 27, 2015 Digital download Epic, Streamline Records [2][4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Calling All Lovers. Epic Records, Streamline Records (Inlay cover). Tamar Braxton. October 2, 2015.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. ^ a b Muhammad, Latifah (May 27, 2015). "Listen to Tamar Braxton's New Single, 'If I Don't Have You'". BET. Archived from the original on April 13, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Wass, Mike (May 27, 2015). "Tamar Braxton Returns With Soulful Ballad "If I Don't Have You": Listen". Idolator. Archived from the original on June 11, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Swanson, Laura (May 27, 2015). "Tamar Braxton Launches New Single, "If I Don't Have You" to Radio and Retail Today - Coinciding With Brand New Season of #1 Rated Reality Series "Braxton Family Values" (WE-tv)". PR Newswire. Archived from the original on June 13, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "New Music: Tamar Braxton "If I Don't Have You"". Rap-Up. May 26, 2015. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Faulkner, Brent (December 17, 2015). "Tamar Braxton: Calling All Lovers". PopMatters. Archived from the original on November 27, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Apaza, Kevin (July 10, 2015). "Tamar Braxton - "If I Don't Have You" [Music Video Premiere!]". SpinMedia. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d Donnelly, Matthew Scott (May 27, 2015). "Tamar Braxton's 'If I Don't Have You' is a Piano-Tickled, On-My-Knees Plea". PopCrush. Townsquare Media. Archived from the original on July 27, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d Hillyer, Diamond (October 2, 2015). "Review: Tamar Braxton Tears Pages From Her Book Of Love For The 'Calling All Lovers' LP". Vibe. Eldridge Industries. Archived from the original on July 21, 2017.
  10. ^ Smiley, Rickey (May 27, 2015). "Tamar Braxton "If I Don't Have You" [New Music]". Rickey Smiley Morning Show. Archived from the original on November 27, 2017.
  11. ^ a b Brammer, Imani (July 10, 2015). "Exclusive: Go Behind the Scenes of Tamar Braxton's 'If I Don't Have You' Video". Essence. Time Inc. Archived from the original on July 3, 2016.
  12. ^ Wass, Mike (July 22, 2015). "Tamar Braxton's Third Album 'Calling All Lovers' Has An Unexpected Release Date". Idolator. Archived from the original on June 11, 2017.
  13. ^ "Grammy Award Results for Tamar Braxton". Grammy Award. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017.
  14. ^ Wass, Mike (September 15, 2015). "Tamar Braxton Debuts Gorgeous Ballad "King" On 'The Real': Watch". Idolator. Archived from the original on November 18, 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Hot R&B Songs". Billboard. Eldridge Industries. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017.
  16. ^ a b "R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay". Billboard. Eldridge Industries. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d e Augustine, Afiya (July 10, 2015). "Tamar Braxton Works For NeNe Leakes in "If I Don't Have You" Video". Wetpaint. Archived from the original on November 27, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Schillaci, Sophie (July 9, 2015). "See NeNe Leakes Play a Madam in Tamar Braxton's New Music Video". Entertainment Tonight. Archived from the original on July 14, 2016.
  19. ^ Mercy (June 15, 2015). "Tamar Braxton Unveils 'If I Don't Have You' Lyric Video". SoulBounce.com. Archived from the original on November 27, 2017.
  20. ^ Nichole, Erica (May 29, 2015). "Vixen Boombox: Tamar Braxton Declares Her Love In 'If I Don't Have You'". Vibe. Eldridge Industries. Archived from the original on July 17, 2017.
  21. ^ "She Did That: "If I Don't Have You" Video Teaser..." TamarBraxton.com. July 1, 2015. Archived from the original on September 27, 2015.
  22. ^ a b c d Schillaci, Sophie (July 1, 2015). "Exclusive: Tamar Braxton Parties With NeNe Leakes in New Video Tease". Entertainment Tonight. Archived from the original on August 23, 2016.
  23. ^ Fitzgerald, Trent (July 10, 2015). "Tamar Braxton Heads to a Brothel in 'If I Don't Have You' Video". The Boombox. AOL. Archived from the original on April 29, 2016.
  24. ^ a b c "K. Michelle and Tamar Braxton Perform Together at the BET Awards". Rap-Up. Devin Lazerine. June 28, 2015. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "BET Awards: Battle of the Ballads: K. Michelle, Tamar Braxton and Patti LaBelle". BET. June 28, 2015. Archived from the original on June 11, 2017. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  26. ^ "History of Beef: Tamar Braxton Versus K. Michelle". VH1. October 29, 2013. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017.

External linksEdit