Hit the Freeway
|"Hit the Freeway"|
|Single by Toni Braxton featuring Loon|
|from the album More Than a Woman|
|B-side||"And I Love You"|
|Released||October 15, 2002|
|Format||CD single, 7" single|
|Writer(s)||Pharrell Williams, Chauncey Hawkins|
|Toni Braxton singles chronology|
"Hit the Freeway" is a song by the American recording artist Toni Braxton, released as the lead-single from her fourth studio album, More Than a Woman (2002). The song, which features American rapper Loon, was written by Pharrell Williams and Loon himself, while production was handled by Pharrell's production duo The Neptunes. It is an R&B and hip-hop song, with lyrics about an ex trying to rekindle with Braxton, but Braxton claims she's not interested in him anymore.
The song received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who praised its catchiness and contagiousness, and picked it as a stand-out track. However, the song proved to be a failure on the charts, reaching the top-forty in Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and UK, while only reaching number 86 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. A music video, directed by Charles Infante and Dave Meyers, was released in October 2002 and it features Braxton being chased by her ex.
After the success of her third studio album, "The Heat" (2000) and its lead single "He Wasn't Man Enough", which led her to win a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Braxton promised an upbeat new album, saying, "People like the slow, miserable love songs of Toni Braxton, but maybe the Prozac is working now, so let's give 'em some happier songs." She started recording the album in March 2001, claiming that after a few tough years, she had a new personal happiness to bring to her music, part of that, she said, stems from her engagement to Keri Lewis of Mint Condition.
In late 2002, Braxton revealed in a statement, "I'm ready to show other sides of what I can do musically. My first love has always been R&B, and I've been into hip-hop since it first started. On each of my albums I've done things to introduce people to other aspects of what I'm about musically. Sometimes, artists can get confined by what they’ve done in the past. When people hear I’m working with the Neptunes, they’re like ‘I wonder what that will sound like?’ I’m just being a part of my own generation — and we grew up with rap and hip-hop as well as R&B!."
Release and composition
"Hit the Freeway" was released in early October 2002, and it was the first and only single taken from "More Than a Woman, due to Braxton's second pregnancy announced in the same month. The CD single features the radio edit and the extended version of the song, as well as a previously unreleased track called "And I Love You", who would later be featured on "More Than a Woman", and a remix of her single "Maybe". The CD also contains an enhanced video, featuring "Hit the Freeway"'s music video. The song is featured on her compilations, "Ultimate Toni Braxton" (2003), "Platinum & Gold Collection" (2004), "Un-Break My Heart: The Remix Collection" (2005), "The Essential Toni Braxton" (2007) and "Playlist: The Very Best of Toni Braxton" (2008).
"Hit the Freeway" was written by Pharrell Williams and Chauncey Hawkins, while production was handled by Pharrell's production duo The Neptunes. The song features American rapper Loon, with Pharrell also providing additional vocals. "Hit the Freeway" is a saucy, uptempo and synth-driven hip-hop and R&B song, in which Braxton serves a flame his walking papers. Loon raps before the first verse and only lists all the things he bought her, "shoes from Milan, Louis Vuitton, animal arm bag and jewels on your arm." Then, Braxton talks about receiving a phone call from an ex-boyfriend, who she is not interested in hearing from anymore. Later he pipes in during the verses to respond to her point of view. In the chorus, Braxton sings, ""Farewell my lonely one, nothing else here can be done, I don't ever wanna see you again."
The song received mostly favorable reviews from music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic picked the song as a stand-out track of the album. Keysha Davis of BBC Music called the chorus "eagerly contagious", writing that, "What at first sounds like a quintessential Neptunes track - melodic synthesiser, staged handclaps and funky drum patterns - later transpires into an impressive slice of pop R&B. Revenge has never sounded sweeter." Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called it a "catchy and edgy hip-hop-flavored fare." Tracy E. Hopkins of Barnes & Noble wrote that the song "reveals Braxton's fondness for beats and rhymes."
Dan Gennoe of Yahoo! Music was less favorable, writing that, "The Neptunes muster a slack handful of their trademark bleeps and hope for the best with 'Hit The Freeway', leaving Braxton sounding, bizarrely, like the product of any number of Neptunes imitators." Bland Is Out There review was also mixed, writing that "Loon’s appearance is insignificant and poor," while "The Neptunes overpower the music with their beats, leaving her buried underneath." The review concluded, stating, "'Hit the Freeway' is a great, but flawed single. It could’ve been better if it wasn’t so focused on the Neptunes-based production."
In the United States, "Hit the Freeway" only managed to peak at number 86, becoming her lowest charting-single since "Spanish Guitar". In the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, the song debuted at number 77, before moving to number 67. It peaked at number 32, being her third consecutive single to miss the top-twenty on the R&B charts. It fared better on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart, where its remix peaked at number 2. In the United Kingdom, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at number 29, on March 8, 2003. It was her lowest since "You Mean the World to Me" (1994).
In Australia, the song debuted and peaked at number 46 on the ARIA Charts, only remaining on the charts for two weeks. It was also her lowest charting-single since "You Mean the World to Me" and her last single to chart in Australia. In Sweden, the song was her best single since "He Wasn't Man Enough", peaking at number 40, but it was her last single to chart. In Switzerland, the song only peaked at number 38, becoming her lowest charting-single ever there. In Belgium, the single proved to be better, reaching number 1 and 3, on the Wallonia and Flanders, respectively.
The music video for "Hit the Freeway", directed by Charles Infante and Dave Meyers, was shot in Los Angeles, in September 2002. It tells the story of a woman leaving her cheating boyfriend. There are several shots of Braxton driving down the freeway while her ex follows her, trying to rekindle the relationship.
|CD maxi single|
|1.||"Hit the Freeway" (Radio Edit)||3:48|
|2.||"Hit the Freeway" (Extended Version)||6:27|
|3.||"And I Love You"||4:02|
|4.||"Maybe" (HQ² Radio Mix)||3:19|
|5.||"Hit the Freeway" (Enhanced Video)||4:47|
|1.||"Hit the Freeway" (Radio Edit)||3:48|
|2.||"Hit the Freeway" (Goldtrix Full Vocal Edit)||7:16|
|3.||"Hit the Freeway" (Beatzworkin' Remix)||5:58|
|4.||"Hit the Freeway" (Enhanced Video)||4:47|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||31|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||56|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||38|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||29|
|US Billboard Hot 100||86|
|US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)||2|
|US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)||32|
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