Contradiction has always been a characteristic of the Beastie Boys. Leaving aside the obvious Jews-who-rap-oddity, the primary oxymoron of "License to Ill" was the intelligence behind the Beasties' raunchy, dumbed-down songs such as "You Gotta Fight for the Right to Party" and "Girls!"
They aren't playing dumb anymore.
"Hello Nasty" interweaves rowdy, balls-out raps with more enlightened verbal excursions. But they still don't take themselves too seriously. Traditional rap braggadocio creeps into otherwise sincere, spiritually fulfilling songs. The album is checkered with brilliant throwaway lines, such as, I'm the master of boggle/There is none higher/I get 11 points off the word quagmire, on "Putting Shame in Your Game."
As always the arrangements are inspired sonic mayhem, but occasional delicate melodies surface, as on "And Me," which features Miho Hatori from the Japanese-American pop duo Cibo Matto. If no single measures up to "Sabotage" or "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn," "Hello Nasty" is still a wonderful, irascible mess -- and not one bit too smart for its own good.