If there’s anything I’ve learned from covering pop music for over a decade, it’s that songwriters and collaborators are just as important as the artists themselves. Though they often work behind the scenes, this feature is a chance to shine the light on some of k-pop’s most innovative and accomplished producers and composers.
KIM TAE JOO
Years active: 2011-present
Associated Acts: Beast, Highlight, KNK, Junhyung, Yoseob, Speed
His sound: Melodic choruses with a clean pop style and an emphasis on a sing-song sense of repetition. Heavily influenced by hip-hop and r&b, his instrumentals possess a defining sense of texture that feels grounded and sometimes gritty.
Why you should love him: Part of production team Good Life, Kim Tae Joo has been partially responsible for what I would consider Beast’s best work. But he’s also branched out on his own, crafting rookie group KNK’s signature style. The bulk of his work has been with boy groups, but he’s collaborated on a few girl group tracks as well, helping craft solid b-sides for Apink and EXID. It’s hard to pin down what exactly defines his sound (especially since it’s been so closely tied with Beast/Highlight), but you know it when you hear it, and it’s really unlike anything else out there.
Examples of his best work: