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EXO’s LAY Departs SM Entertainment; Releases New Single Commemorating the Past Decade

The singer-songwriter and producer announced his departure from the entertainment giant via a handwritten letter

Divyansha Dongre Apr 08, 2022

EXO LAY. Photo: courtesy of SM Entertainment

After an illustrious decade packed with powerful stages and albums, EXO’s LAY has announced his departure from SM Entertainment. The news comes on the group’s 10th anniversary, which also marks the expiration of LAY’s contractual agreement with the entertainment giant. 

While the multifaceted artist may have opted out of renewing his contract, according to Star News, SM Entertainment is currently exploring a different contractual structure with him. The label’s statement reads, “The existing exclusive contract has expired, and we are discussing a new type of contract.” 

Earlier today, LAY took over his social media handles to address the recent events. Through a handwritten note, the singer expressed the gratitude he held for his fellow EXO members, fans and SM Entertainment; “It’s time to say goodbye as an employee of SM,” the singer wrote. Concluding the letter on a moving note, LAY added, “I will always be the Lay when my members need me.”

Shortly after announcing his departure, the singer released a brand-new single. Titled “Jiu” (translates to number nine in Chinese), the smooth, emotive R&B single includes voice notes shared between the EXO members. From the exchange of new-year wishes, the cheesy-yet-adorable conversation between SEHUN and Lay, to a curious BAEKHYUN eager to know LAY’s thoughts on his third EP Bambi, the single opens on a heartwarming note, illustrating the friendship and admiration EXO members hold for one another. 

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Dialing up the emotional quotient further, “Jiu” subtly includes all nine EXO members alongside their superpowers (part of EXO’s overarching concept that positions them as nine superheroes, each with a distinct power). The recall extends through the first and second verses as LAY raises a toast to his fellow bandmates and the bond they share: “Drink a glass of lightning that strikes and shatters the sorrows of the world / Light is usually unrestrained / Feel it all to your heart’s content / I’ll teleport right beside you yeah.”

Composed of XIUMIN, SUHO, LAY, BAEKHYUN, CHEN, CHANYEOL, D.O., KAI and SEHUN, EXO were vital catalysts in the spread of K-pop at an international level. With an enormous discography spanning pop, R&B, hip-hop, EDM and albums selling millions of copies worldwide, the group continues to exert their creative dominance even today through an array of solo works; leader SUHO is the latest to join the string of solo releases with his sophomore EP, Grey Suit. 

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