Introducing Iann Dior, hip-hop's most in-demand rising star
With his debut album Industry Plant, the 20-year-old Texas-via-Puerto Rico musician steps out and defines his worth.
In hip-hop, the concept of the 'industry plant' is one of the genre's most-argued debating topics. What constitutes being an industry plant? Do they even exist, and if so, who are they? Is this artist or that artist an industry plant, because their 'glow up' seems suspicious? In hip-hop particularly, the conversation of being an industry plant has plagued the careers of some of the genre's formidable names - Post Malone, Travis Scott, Chance The Rapper - and even as musicians like these defy the boxes placed upon them, they're continually shouted down as being falsely built.
Iann Dior is a rapper from Texas-via-Puerto Rico that like musicians such as Raury (who wore a shirt with 'Industry Plant' written on it for his XXL Freshman Class cover), is taking control of the narratives surrounding his sudden, explosive fame, naming his debut album after the phrase in a calculated, masterful move that sees him laugh at the concept that's come to shroud his quick rise: "This is my way of saying, ‘I am what you say I am,’ and making people focus on the music, instead of what’s organic and what isn’t," he says on the record. "Blurring the lines and becoming the poster boy for the ‘industry plant’ name."
On Industry Plant, the 20-year-old's debut album, Iann Dior is here to prove that he's anything but a calculated move onto the music industry, with an extensive 15-track collection of his wide-varying sound and the many pockets of sub-genres it can fall under, proving himself as a worthy name amongst rap music's next generation. There are moments that clang with the trap-rap 808s that have defined hip-hop's last decade side-by-side to others way left of centre; melodies more-so in line with mid-2000s punk-rock and 90s grunge-pop making a resugence amongst the battering of hip-hop alongside.
For example, take a look at the contrast between tracks like Lately and the album-concluding Stay For A While, and how the former moulds dancy 90s funk grooves into his sound, while the latter sees comparisons to Post Malone deepen with a grungy, old-fashioned vocal delivery that takes the track into an almost rock-esque shape. Needed, in another example, channels the explosion of Latin-pop with a subtle Spanish touch, while WYA explores another exploding pocket of music in 2019: hazy, yet hard-hitting emo-rap.
Industry Plant isn't just an example of Iann Dior's versatility however, nor is it just a chance to prove that he's not an industry plant. It's also an opportunity for the rising Texan to showcase his status as a keen collaborator in hip-hop unafraid from venturing outside of genre boxes, especially as he paves a path amongst hip-hop's most in-demand in a collaborative sense - there's a lot going on.
Industry Plant lines up the guests. Blink 182's Travis Barker continues his assault in hip-hop on the album's classic-rock-interpolating opener Darkside, while rising hip-hop stars Trippie Redd and Gunna feature elsewhere, the former on the hazy emo-tinged gone girl towards the album's beginning, with Gunna in the midst of the record's middle part, with the more modernised, trap-rap-leaning Strings. Elsewhere, there are moments where Iann may be all on his own, but he's reworking the past in a different take of collaboration - take the hint to Nine Inch Nails' Closer in Urself and the Sum 41 interpolation of In Too Deep, in the song of the same name.
While Iann Dior's collaborative history has shined through in the past - his debut mixtape, nothings ever good enough, also featured PnB Rock - it's clear that Dior has something special going on in the collaborative sense. He's able to twist his sound into areas unexplored in the past - enlisting Travis Barker for a rap song, interpolating a Sum 41 track on your debut album - and look forward to the future in the process. It seems like from here, his only way is up.
Iann Dior's debut album Industry Plant is out now via 10K Projects / Caroline Australia.
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