NME Radar: Breakout

iann dior: “My role? I’m picking up where Juice WRLD left off”

Sitting at the top of the US charts isn't enough for the Puerto Rican-born rapper – he's already plotting to be the "greatest on the planet"

Each week in Breakout, we talk to the emerging stars blowing up right now – whether it be a huge viral moment, killer new track or an eye-popping video – these are the rising artists certain to dominate the near future

Iann dior is tempting fate a little bit with debut album ‘Industry Plant’. The term – often assigned to non-white, non-male success stories – suggests that dior is an artist made by committee, so he flipped the narrative and wears the badge of suspicion with pride. After all, the idiosyncrasies of this Gen Z star seems impossible for anyone to engineer.

After popping up out of nowhere with features from huge SoundCloud stars like Trippie Redd, his debut album solidified dior’s place in the new age of rap. Now, almost a year after his debut, the Puerto Rican-born, Texas-raised 21 year old has taken the musical world by storm with his last EP, ‘I’m Gone’. Garnished with big boy features from Lil Baby and Machine Gun Kelly that range from pop rap to punk, it’s no surprise that after the EP, he landed a Number One song on the Billboard Hot 100 with fellow breakout star 24kGoldn in ‘Mood’.

Speaking to NME, dior reflects his quick success, his role in the game, and what his next album should be like.

You went from having a small buzz to now being this big star on top of the charts. How does it feel to have such a rapid climb to success?

“I feel accomplished. I’m very hard on myself. I’ve been in the studio every single night, even after all this Number One stuff happened. I’m not leaving the studio until another one. I’m only 21 and I’m doing things that take people years to do, so I’m definitely very excited about the future. But in the back of my mind this is nothing new. We want another one.”

What’s your first musical memory?

“I remember I did this little tiny Texas tour and the last show in my hometown of Corpus Christi. We got everybody to pull up. I’m talking it was packed with 200 people and they cancelled the show. I was so sad – my best friend and I were in tears. We’re so pissed off. And, you know how they say ‘Everything has to fall apart for it to come back together’. I got hit up to go to LA a week after that. I was 18 and that same best friend? I recorded all my music with him before, and now, he was the engineer for ‘Mood’.

“The best things in your life happened at random times. We made ‘Mood’ playing Call of Duty and drinking beer. We weren’t in that thinking like all these notes have to be perfect together. We were just chilling, and now it’s one of the biggest songs in the world. 24k Goldn pulled up on me and my friend and I just were drinking Coronas.”

Some say you’re not that versatile. What would you say to people who think that you’re just a one trick pony?

“I would just tell them to watch. It’s pretty funny because I can make any type of music. Being Puerto Rican, I’ve actually thought about making Reggaeton. I always thought that was my secret weapon. I have songs in Spanish, but I never knew when the right time to drop it was. I think very soon is definitely the time to do that now that the fan base is growing.”

Your first album is called ‘Industry Plant’ — an interesting name to give a debut. How do you feel about that accusation and what does that record say about you?

“I love that project. I think that, from the name to the music, it was a statement because everybody around me was calling me an industry plant, and that I wasn’t a real artist. ‘I wasn’t this, I wasn’t that’. Well, let me put it in your face. And after that, listen to the music. If it’s good music, great.”

Where does all your fashion and art inspiration come from?

“This is all fun but I don’t know. My style is very random. I’m sample size so I fit into everything and it’s very easy to dress me. I really fuck with Billy Idol and I like his style. I think he’s really cool. I love Prince. I love Michael Jackson. I’m really into the one-of-one pieces that can’t be replicated so when I step out, there’s no one like me. I like that feeling.”

And then would you say that your love for ‘80s style and your randomness also reflects in your music?

“100% The other day I was at [XXXTentacion and Ski Mask the Slump God’s DJ] Scheme’s, and he was playing this guitar loop and it sounded like an R&B record so I slid on it to make an R&B rap track. By the time the records finished, we’re like ‘What the fuck is this? But, we love it!’ Is it hip hop? Is it R&B? Whatever the fuck it is, we were vibing and he’s putting it on his album with The Kid LAROI.”

“I’m such a spontaneous person so I want to venture out. I like to do new things, so I’m definitely gonna get into acting. I want to do some voiceovers on cartoons. I think that’d be fire. I love art. Whenever I can’t explain my words, I put it into a painting and I think it’s really cool.”

What do you feel like your role is? Where would you fit in the whole rapper clique?

“I come out of my own pocket. I love doing me. But if I had to say what my role is, I would say I’m picking up where Juice Wrld left off.”

Juice Wrld made tapped into a bunch of kids’ hearts. Is that what you’re trying to do?

“Exactly, yes! And I want to do it in a way where they feel good. Whenever you listen to my music, I don’t want you to feel like shit. Some of my songs in this new album, it’s inevitable for you to listen to it and just feel good. I want to tap into the youth and I want them to feel good about themselves. It’s hard to explain.”

You changed your name from Olmo to iann dior just before you blew up. Do you feel that your artistry changed with your name?

“1000 per cent. The whole reason for me changing my name was that I was on my first flight to LA and I hated who I was before. I wanted to be something new so I put my middle name with my favourite brand that I could never afford. And it just worked. Now we get a bunch of it. We love dior, you know, it’s part of the brand.

“I worried about what other people thought, holding onto things that didn’t matter. I feel like everybody goes through phases in their life, where they deal with those kinds of things. But at that particular time in my life, I was really over it and I wanted to make it happen. I wanted to make sure that Olmo didn’t get in the way of what iann dior was coming to do. “

Being amongst the Internet Money family, how is it like having such a dream team behind you?

“They have what the youth want to hear. It was just a really fun experience working with Nick, I mean, Nick makes hits. The kid is so talented. But Internet Money was the only group I was really working with, so now I’m moving around and experimenting with new producers and new people. I think that I’m having an amazing time making music because I’m also making new friends. And the album sounds great. I’m so excited for everybody to hear this album. I think it’s gonna break the internet.”

Let’s talk about the new music, then….

“I think I started tapping back into my old roots because I was experimenting with different sounds of pop, rock, R&B, funk and all that stuff. But for the hip hop stuff, my fans will like that I’m tapping back into ‘nothing’s ever good enough’. That’s who I really am; the hip hop shit where I talked about how I’m feeling. I think they’ll be really excited to know that those vibes back in the new album. The name might be a little hush hush but I’ll tell you that it correlates with ‘I’m Gone’.

“Yeah, this last EP, I was going through a lot of stuff. So I was angry. I was furious in the studio, I was hungry, trying to get something. So now I’m letting people see a different side of me again.”

What’s next for Iann dior?

“My album; the number one Billboard album is next. I need that. I want to become the Number One artist in the world, and I’m fully determined and obsessed with being the greatest. So I’m pretty sure next time we have a conversation, we’ll be talking about how I’m the number one artist in the world.”

24kGoldn and iann dior’s ‘Mood’ is out now