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Why the Beastie Boys took so long to come back

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In 1986, a scruffy trio of beer-spewing, crotch-grabbing New Yorkers bum-rushed the greater national pop scene with a raucous and rocking rap ditty called ”Fight for Your Right.” Now, 18 years later, the Beastie Boys’ keg-party high jinks have been mellowed by a little wisdom and a whole lot of graying hair — although that doesn’t mean Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock are ready to retire their mics. In fact, the troika’s new album, To the 5 Boroughs, their sixth, marks a return to the stripped-down beats of their early days, and comes complete with plenty of the goofy one-liners and offbeat references they’ve been kicking around since they paired ”Paul Revere” with ”quart of beer.” To celebrate two decades of rhyme, we thought we’d give L2T readers a chance to ask the Beasties some of their most pressing questions. And being the good sports that they are, the threesome sat down and defended their career with a smattering of serious answers — and a gaggle of smart-ass remarks.

I was wondering why it took the Beastie Boys six years between Hello Nasty and To the 5 Boroughs. — Brad Payne, Iowa City, Iowa

AD-ROCK Oh, Brad, grow up.

MIKE D You know, Brad should get a job as a journalist. Because that’s the No. 1 question we’ve been asked.

AD-ROCK None of your business, Brad.

MIKE D You should stay focused in the moment and enjoy the record while it’s here. It could be another six years, it might not happen again, so just relax. Lighten up!

As you push 40, you’re assuming the unlikely role of ”oldest rappers of all time.” At what point do you think rappers become too out of touch with youth to produce relevant music? Do you want to go down as the Mick Jaggers of the genre? — Ben Chung, Lake Forest, Ill.

MCA Ouch. My friend said to me, ”Isn’t there some rule about gray hair and MC-ing?” What are you gonna say? I dunno. I guess that’s why we almost called the record ”Still Doin’ It.”

AD-ROCK C’mon, man, what’s that supposed to mean? Why you gotta s — -on Mick Jagger? C’mon, man, ”Sympathy for the Devil,” ”Under My Thumb” — those are big, big records. You know, Ben, we’re not trying to prove anything. We’re not trying to be hip with the kids, we’re just trying to make some records. So give me a f — -ing break.

Why choose ”The O.C.” to promote and introduce your new single, ”Ch-Check It Out”? Longtime fans might think that you’re selling out to the mainstream public. — Kimberly Sieckman, Cincinnati

AD-ROCK We sold out a long time ago, if you’re just figuring that out now…

MIKE D ”The O.C.” became a much bigger deal than we anticipated. To be honest, the show is my No. 1 guilty pleasure. My wife and I watch it every week. So our manager called us and said, ”I know you usually say no to all things like this, but ”The O.C.” wants to use a song of yours.”

AD-ROCK I’ve never seen ”The O.C.”, and I think it looks really stupid, but the point is, it was a joke. It was something funny to do, and everybody’s getting so serious about it. Why can’t people take a f—ing joke?