In 1993, after about two years out of the limelight, the New Kids went back into the studio and began recording their fourth studio album (sixth overall), before splitting up a year later. By this point, due to a strong backlash and allegations of lip-synching, the group pushed for a more mature image and song selection that would appeal to fans. In addition, they had outgrown the "New Kids" name: Joey McIntyre was 21, Jordan Knight was 23, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood were 24, and Jonathan Knight was 25 years old.
Jordan Knight, Wahlberg, and Wood fought for creative input and control, as most of their material was previously rejected by producer Maurice Starr in favor of his own compositions. Having been dogged with an "uncool" stigma that they faced previously, the boys decided to sever their ties with Starr who had been instrumental in their early success. At the request of Columbia Records, they shortened their name to the more mature-sounding NKOTB and developed a harder sound with which they hoped to reconnect with members of their fanbase, and appeal to a wider audience. "Dirty Dawg" did fairly well on the charts, but a Canadian station (MuchMusic) banned the music video due to its suggested violence and misogynistic themes. Although not a major commercial success, the critical reception was positive, and a cross-country tour was in the works. However, NKOTB only could find bookings at nightclubs and theatres, a far cry from the arenas and stadiums they had been accustomed to playing in while in their peak years. During the tour, Jonathan Knight dropped out of the band due to increased panic attacks and anxiety, and the rest of the group decided to cancel the rest of the tour.