Shinsadong Tiger, No. 1 K-Pop Hitmaker and Producer of EXID & TRI.BE, Found Dead at 40

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Shinsadong Tiger, a chart-topping and award-winning K-pop producer and songwriter, has passed away, his entertainment label confirmed on Friday (Feb. 23). The cause of death is currently unknown. He was 40.

Following local reports that Shinsadong Tiger (neé Lee Ho-yang, also known professionally as S.Tiger) was found collapsed in his Seoul workplace, his representative agency TR Entertainment confirmed the news that “Producer Shinsadong Tiger suddenly left our side on February 23, 2024.”

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In the statement on social media, TR Entertainment requested refraining from “speculative reports for the bereaved families” and that funeral proceedings will be held quietly only by family, relatives and colleagues.

TR Entertainment also represents TRI.BE, Universal Music Korea’s first K-pop group crafted in collaboration with Shinsadong Tiger and signed with Republic Records in the U.S. On Tuesday (Feb. 20), TRI.BE released a new single “Diamond” and b-side track “Run,” both produced and co-written by the late producer. TR shared that TRI.BE is canceling and postponing its promotional schedule while promising to return for more television performances “since it is the last album that Shinsadong Tiger prepared and released with TRI.BE during his lifetime.”

TRI.BE was Shinsadong Tiger’s latest act after previously crafting and producing girl group EXID, who unexpectedly exploded in popularity two years into its career with the S.Tiger-produced single “Up & Down” in 2014 after a fan-recorded live performance went viral. Shinsadong Tiger produced seven EXID songs that charted on Billboard‘s World Digital Song Sales chart until the group went on hiatus in 2020.

Lee Ho-yang began his work as a songwriter in 2005 and came to helm some defining tracks of the genre throughout his nearly two decades of work with artists. With a sound that could blend electro-pop and Korea’s traditional trot genre to singles that embraced everything from orchestral production to Afrobeat, his works are tough to pinpoint musically but point to K-pop’s evolution.

Between 2011-2013, Lee produced four No. 1s on the (now-discontinued) K-Pop Hot 100 in T-ara’s “Roly-Poly” and “Lovey Dovey,” Trouble Maker’s “Now” and Ailee’s “U&I.” Meanwhile, his work like “Fiction” by boy band Beast won Song of the Year at the 2011 KBS Song Festival awards, while several of his creations with EXID, T-ara, HyunA and WJSN all were named in Billboard‘s 100 Greatest K-Pop Songs of the 2010s.

Shinsadong Tiger’s productions also had a knack for reaching wider audiences beyond Korean-music fans. In addition to EXID’s aforementioned breakout hit, HyunA’s “Bubble Pop!” from 2011 was an early YouTube smash and made the star the first K-pop soloist to break 100 million views on a music video. Later, “Bboom Bboom” by MOMOLAND helped break the rising girl group to the top of the charts in 2018, while its 626 million YouTube views make it one of the platform’s most-viewed K-pop videos ever.

Dalsooobin, a member of the girl group Dal Shabet whose singles like “B.B.B (Big Baby Baby)” and “Fri. Sat. Sun.” were produced by Shinsadong Tiger, shared her condolences and the former single’s album cover on her YouTube channel. Damjun, a member and songwriter-composer for his boy band LIONESSES, wrote “Thank you for your masterpieces” on Threads.

U.K. producer duo LDN Noise (who have helmed tracks with the likes of EXO, Chris Brown, NCT and NMIXX), Los Angeles-based Softserveboy (SEVENTEEN, Gwen Stefani, ENHYPEN, P1Harmony) and Damuer H. Leffridge (whose clients have included T-ara and B2K) all shared their condolences on Instagram. At the same time, L.A.-born Jae Chong (Uhm Junghwa, BoA, JYJ, Jolin Tsai, BIBI) called it “truly sad news” on the platform.

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