Tougher Than Leather
Tougher Than Leather is the soundtrack to a reportedly hideous film, in which Run-D.M.C. attempted to revive the blaxploitation genre. Despite the lack of progress from Raising Hell, an imprudent inertia in the quickly evolving hip-hop scene of the late 1980s, it’s by no means their worst album. In fact, it’s an improvement from the previous album; there’s nothing on the level of ‘It’s Tricky’ or ‘My Adidas’, but on the whole Tougher Than Leather is more substantial than its predecessor.
Released just four years after their debut and the progression in hip hop is staggering; Run-D.M.C. was released on the cutting edge of hip hop in 1983 and sounded like it was made using a drum machine and a cheap casio, while Tougher Than Leather, in the vanguard of the genre just four years later, sounds positively futuristic in comparison. Compared to an emerging social conscience in hip hop; everything’s either bragging or party fare, apart from some social commentary in ‘Papa Crazy’.
Key tracks include the opener ‘Run’s House’, which sets up an uncharacteristically intense sound collage, and ‘Beats To The Rhyme’. The title track and ‘Miss Elaine’ follow the successful guitar formula of previous albums, while ‘Ragtime’ provides the diversity. There’s just enough good material spread through the three Run-D.M.C. albums reviewed on this site to make one really good album.