At the end of 1986, Raising Hell was rap's best-selling album up to that point, though it would soon be outsold by the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill. Profile Records hoped that Run-D.M.C.'s fourth album, Tougher Than Leather, would exceed the Beastie Boys' quintuple-platinum status, but unfortunately, the group's popularity had decreased by 1988. One of Run-D.M.C.'s strong points -- its love of rock & roll -- was also its undoing in hip-hop circles. Any type of crossover success tends to be viewed suspiciously in the hood, and hardcore hip-hoppers weren't overly receptive to "Miss Elaine," "Papa Crazy," "Mary, Mary," and other rap-rock delights found on the album. Thanks largely to rock fans, this album did go platinum for sales exceeding one million copies -- which ironically, Profile considered a disappointment. But the fact is that while Tougher Than Leather isn't quite as strong as Run-D.M.C.'s first three albums, it was one of 1988's best rap releases.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson