Rick Rubin has produced some of the biggest hits of the past 30 years, from LL Cool J to Black Sabbath. He explains the secrets of the creative process:

“We worked on [the Beastie Boys’] debut album, Licensed to Ill, for a long time, two years in all, which is part of the reason the record is as good as it is. Each song really has a life of its own, because it might be a month between writing two songs. It wasn’t like ‘OK, we have six weeks to make an album.’ It was natural—the natural flow of making a really good piece of work. I can remember at one point getting a call from Mike D really upset, like, ‘What’s going on? Why isn’t our record done yet?’ I just said, ‘I don’t really have control over that. It comes when it comes.’

“NEWSWEEK: Usually young people are in a rush. Why did you feel like you could take so much time?

“From the beginning, all I’ve ever cared about is things being great. I never cared about when they were done. Because I also feel like I want the music to last forever. And once you release it, you can’t go back and fix it, so you really have to get it right. And that takes time.”