After amassing over four million SoundCloud streams in his first month as an artist, fans were quick to label Iann Dior as an “industry plant.” The 20-year-old Texas rapper started working with the powerhouse production collective Internet Money in early 2019 and began dropping tracks weekly, all produced by multi-platinum producer Nick Mira. Just a few months after his debut, he signed a record deal with 10K Projects, the same label that signed popular rappers Trippie Redd and 6ix9ine. This sparked debate over whether or not Iann was genuine, as he seemingly came out of nowhere and gained a strong fanbase.
Whether or not there is weight to this argument, Iann used the discussion to his advantage and decided to name his debut album “Industry Plant.” He takes the conversation about how he rose to stardom and puts the focus entirely on his music. The album name is also a genius marketing move by Internet Money and 10K Projects, as searches for “Iann Dior industry plant” will yield Iann’s album.
While Iann’s first EP, “Nothing’s Ever Good Enough,” was heavily rap-focused, “Industry Plant” incorporates multiple genres, proving Iann’s stylistic depth and growth as an artist. The influence of ’90s and early 2000s rock is evident throughout the project in the melodic, guitar-centric production of nearly every song.
Tracks like “Lately” and “Problems” feature upbeat pop guitar riffs accompanied by groovy synths, giving listeners an opportunity to dance along to the melodic rhythm. This ’90s dance groove is especially evident on “Needed” which includes a latin-inspired production complete with a dark Spanish guitar instrumental, snaps and claps.
In contrast to these upbeat dance songs, “Searching” and “Stay for a While” incorporate elements of indie-pop. Taking inspiration from Post Malone, “Stay for a While” offers the most intimate look at Iann’s voice, showcasing raw emotion over a stripped-down melancholic guitar instrumental. The strength of Iann’s voice as a singer, rather than a rapper, is displayed on this track and is a testament to the Puerto Rican’s transcendence of genre.
Along with these ’90s pop influences, “Industry Plant” is also strongly inspired by ’90s classic rock. The opening track “Darkside” includes an intense guitar riff complemented by live drums by blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. Taking after ’90s punk-rock, “Urself” incorporates the snare used in Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” and includes a feature from another Internet Money artist, POORSTACY. Iann also pays tribute to the early 2000s on “In Too Deep” in which he interpolates rock band Sum 41’s 2001 song of the same name.
Although much of the album is pop-focused, “Industry Plant” includes more emo-rap style songs such as “WYA,” which features a more-typical trap style 808. “Strings,” the project’s hip-hop banger, features Gunna who gives the song a strong hard-trap vibe and the newcomer’s debut album a veteran touch. An established artist is also added on the sad boy anthem “Gone Girl” with Trippie Redd’s feature.
In classic “sad boy” fashion, Iann’s lyrics center around his deepest thoughts and raw emotions. Emo bangers “Never Is Enough” and “Flowers” show off Iann’s ability to combine genres, characterized by their ’90s guitar riffs, trap production and melancholic lyrics. Singing “I hate to see you cry, I should’ve brought you flowers/ Now I’m alone, I should’ve stayed another hour,” Iann expresses his feelings of regret on “Flowers” and describes his unhealthy coping methods on “Never Is Enough,” revealing “Blunt smoke in my lungs, I get f—-d up.” These same emotional lyrics are showcased throughout “Industry Plant” from his self-reflection “Too much emotion/ I’m feelin’ hopeless” on “Problems” to “I got issues, can’t trust nobody” on “Lately.”
With cover art that symbolizes the music industry’s attempts at boxing artists in and telling them who they should be, “Industry Plant” is Iann Dior’s attempt to embrace his criticism and accept what others say about him.
His unique flow, ability to transcend genres and write intimate lyrics make Iann Dior one of hip-hop’s hottest young stars. It doesn’t matter whether or not Iann is an “industry plant” — his music is unlike anyone else’s in the rap industry and its quality should be the center of discussion.