Tougher Than Leather

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Tougher Than Leather
Tougher Than Leather.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 17, 1988
StudioUnique Recording Studios, New York City[1]
GenreHardcore hip hop, rap rock, East Coast hip hop
LabelProfile Records
Arista Records (reissue of the album since 1999)
ProducerRun-D.M.C., Davy D., Rick Rubin
Run-D.M.C. chronology
Raising Hell
Tougher Than Leather
Back from Hell
Singles from Tougher than Leather
  1. "I'm Not Going Out Like That"
    Released: January 24, 1988
  2. "Mary, Mary"
    Released: March 8, 1988
  3. "Run's House"
    Released: April 15, 1988
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[2]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[3]
Robert ChristgauB+ [4]
Pitchfork Media(6.4/10)[5]
warr.org3.5/5 stars[6]

Tougher Than Leather is the fourth studio album by hip hop group Run-D.M.C., released on May 17, 1988 by Profile Records. The album was produced by the group members themselves, Davy D. and Rick Rubin.

While the new record did not maintain the same popularity as its predecessor, it obtained platinum status and spawned the favorites "Run's House" and "Mary, Mary". Despite being given a mixed reception at the time of its release, it is now hailed as a seminal classic in hip-hop and many see it as an underrated album.

Tougher Than Leather peaked at number 9 on the US Billboard 200, and number 2 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The album was certified Platinum by the RIAA on July 19, 1988.[7]

The album features three the Billboard singles: "Run's House", "Mary, Mary" and "I'm Not Going Out Like That". "Run's House" and "Mary, Mary" also hit the UK Singles Chart.[8]

The album was reissued by Arista Records in 1999 and 2003. An expanded and remastered edition was released in 2005 and contained 4 previously unreleased songs.[9]


The platinum-selling album, a follow-up to the group's big commercial breakthrough album 1986's Raising Hell, featured some of the group's classics like "Run's House", "Beats to the Rhyme", and a cover of The Monkees's "Mary, Mary". Tougher Than Leather was the group's fourth effort and blended in elements of not only rap but also rock n' roll and funk, making it their most varied effort to date alongside King of Rock. "Papa Crazy" is based on "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" by The Temptations. The album was recorded at 5 studios in New York City: Chung King House Of Metal, Unique Recording Studios, Inc., Electric Lady Studios, Ian London Studios, Greene St. Recording.

In response to albums such as Eric B. & Rakim's Paid In Full, Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, and Boogie Down Productions' Criminal Minded and By All Means Necessary, the group made a distinct departure from their earlier work, as Jam-Master Jay used a heavier amount of sampling.[citation needed]

Run and DMC also made changes in their rapping style (heavily influenced by Rakim) as techniques such as alliteration, polysyllabic rhyming, and internal rhyme are found in songs like "I'm Not Going Out Like That," "Radio Station", and the title track. The group also introduces storytelling to their arsenal in "Ragtime". Despite this, Run-D.M.C. does not abandon their formula of combining hip-hop beats with hard rock guitar riffs, using it in "Miss Elaine", the title track, "Soul To Rock And Roll", and "Mary, Mary".


The album was accompanied by the release of a crime film of the same name by New Line Cinema with Rick Rubin as a director and starring Run-D.M.C. According to the plot Run-D.M.C. must find and punish the evil drug lord-record company executive who murdered their friend. Along the way, they encounter racist bikers, blonde bimbos, and the Beastie Boys. The film was released on VHS on September 16, 1988.[10][11]

Track listing[edit]

The information about samples was taken from WhoSampled.[12]

# Title Samples Length
1 "Run's House"
2 "Mary, Mary"
  • The Monkees – "Mary, Mary" (1966)
  • John Davis and the Monster Orchestra – "I Can't Stop" (1976)
  • Cover version of the song: The Monkees – "Mary, Mary" (1967)
3 "They Call Us Run-D.M.C."
  • Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick – "La Di Da Di" (1985)
  • Juice – "Catch a Groove" (1976)
  • Run-D.M.C. – "Jam Master Jay" (1984)
4 "Beats To The Rhyme"
  • Bob James – "Nautilus" (1974)
  • James Brown – "Talkin' Loud & Sayin' Nothing" (1972)
  • Marva Whitney – "It's My Thing" (1969)
5 "Radio Station"
  • Coke Escovedo – "I Wouldn't Change a Thing" (1976)
  • Gaz – "Sing Sing" (1978)
  • Public Enemy – "Bring the Noise" (1987)
  • LL Cool J – "Dear Yvette" (1985)
  • LL Cool J – "I Can't Live Without My Radio" (1985)
6 "Papa Crazy" 4:18
7 "Tougher Than Leather"
  • Kurtis Blow – "AJ Scratch" (1984)
  • Run-D.M.C. – "Together Forever (Krush-Groove 4) (Live at Hollis Park '84)" (1985)
8 "I'm Not Going Out Like That"
9 "How'd Ya Do It Dee" 3:20
10 "Miss Elaine" 3:05
11 "Soul To Rock And Roll"
  • Chubb Rock – "Rock 'N Roll Dude" (1987)
  • Run-D.M.C. – "King of Rock" (1985)
  • Run-D.M.C. – "Hit It Run (1986)
12 "Ragtime" 2:42

Deluxe edition bonus tracks[edit]

The information about bonus tracks was taken from a booklet of 2005 expanded deluxe edition.[13]

# Title Description Length
13 "Beats To The Rhyme (Instrumental)"
  • B-side of "Run's House" (1988)
  • Previously Unreleased on CD
14 "Crack (Demo)"
  • Recorded November 30, 1986
  • Previously Unreleased
  • When the reel was found for this demo it said "Crack (For Michael Jackson)" on the box, but according to Run the track was never intended to MJ. "We had only met with Michael for once. We had this crazy idea that reminded me of Force MC's (later became Force MD's) and Dot-A-Rock (Fantastic 5 & Cold Crush Brothers). It sounded like Flash on the beat box and the way Jesse D from the Force MC's would sing like Michael over a fly beat box." – Run
15 "Christmas In Hollis"
  • Recorded September 29, 1987
  • Previously released on A Very Special Christmas & Christmas Rap
  • "Bill Adler called one morning and told me that we had to make a record for the Special Olympics. I was in a creative mood and wrote the whole record while eating breakfast. I even got jelly on the paper. That night Bill brought an armful of Christmas records that we ended up sampling for it." – Run
  • Sample: Clarence Carter – "Back Door Santa" (1968)
  • Sample: Isaac Watts – "Joy to the World" (1719)
16 "Penthouse Ad"
  • Recorded February 11, 1987 for the April 1987 issue of Penthouse Magazine
  • Recorded For Tilley Marlieb Advertising
  • Previously Unreleased on CD
  • This radio spot was recorded for their interview that appeared in Penthouse Magazine


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
US Billboard 200[14] 9
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[15] 2
UK Albums Chart[16] 13
New Zealand RIANZ Album Chart[17] 43
Australian ARIA Album Chart[18] 38
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[19] 51


Year Single Chart positions
US Dance
US Dance Sales
1988 "Run's House" - 10 40 30 - 37
"Mary, Mary" 75 29 18 - 14 86
"I'm Not Going Out Like That" - 40 - - - -


  • 1 - Charted with "Beats To The Rhyme"


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[26] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Henderson, Alex. Tougher Than Leather at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
  3. ^ Rolling Stone 14 July 1988
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. Run D.M.C.. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  5. ^ Pitchfork Media Run D.M.C. review
  6. ^ "Run-D.M.C". Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  7. ^ "American certifications – Run-D.M.C. – Tougher Than Leather". Recording Industry Association of America.
  8. ^ "Official Singles Chart - Run-D.M.C." Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  9. ^ "Run-D.M.C. - Tougher Than Leather (2005 expanded deluxe edition)". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  10. ^ "Tougher Than Leather на IMDb". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  11. ^ "Tougher Than Leather (1998) - Movie Review by Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell - January, 1989". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  12. ^ "Run-D.M.C. – Tougher Than Leather (1988) – Samples on WhoSampled". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  13. ^ "Images from Run-D.M.C. – Tougher Than Leather (2005 expanded deluxe edition)". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  14. ^ "Run-DMC Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  15. ^ "Run-DMC Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  16. ^ "Official Albums Chart - Run-D.M.C. - Tougher Than Leather". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  17. ^ "New Zealand Charts". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  18. ^ "Australian Charts". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  19. ^ "RPM Weekly Searchable Database". Billboard. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
  20. ^ "Billboard Hot 100". Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  21. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  22. ^ "Hot Dance Club Songs". Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  23. ^ "Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales". Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  24. ^ "New Zealand Charts". Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  25. ^ "Official Singles Chart - Run-D.M.C." Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  26. ^ "American album certifications – Run-D.M.C. – Tougher Than Leather". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]