Music execs were to blame.
The Beastie Boys's Licensed To Ill was a hit, being certified platinum within weeks of its release in November 1986. Despite the commercial success of their album, the group's members found themselves in a precarious financial situation. The remaining members Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz explain how their ensemble faced a rough phase a year after the release of their debut. The trio weren't even on speaking terms at the time.
In an interview with The Guardian, the artists claim Russell Simmons leveraged their financial predicament as a "bargaining tool" to coerce them into making a followup project.
"Russell was like, if you don’t go in the studio, then I’m not paying you," Diamond explained. "His calculation was that we would all be like, 'Oh we want our millions. OK, Russell we’re going to do it.' But we were all immediately, 'Fuck you.'"
Things ultimately played out to positive results for the group. Considering their trajectory, the two aren't holding a grudge against Def Jam and its leaders.
"Had it not worked out, had we broken up in '87 – and we never got paid by Rick and Russell and Def Jam – it wouldn’t be fine."
Beastie Boys did split up temporarily to pursue separate opportunities with Diamond and Yauch forming their own bands, and Horovitz acting in the 1989 film Lost Angels. Horovitz's time in LA revitalized his musical passions with the influence of one particular group. The renewed energy mended their formation and to the creation of their second project, Paul's Boutique.