Ethan Qin ’26 is intending on majoring in finance and currently serves as sports editor. Outside of the Flat Hat, he enjoys highland cows and getting in his soapbox. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
“Like, damn, she in her mood (Grrah)” – I fear that to the novice and ignorant hip hop enjoyers, these lyrics from the track “In Ha Mood” by Bronx rapper Isis Naija Gaston, better known as Ice Spice, will seem basic and resemble that of a nursery rhyme. These seemingly elementary lyrics, coupled with her meteoric rise to fame and popularity, have prompted many listeners to spread “industry plant” accusations. However, Ice earning accolades like Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Rookie of the Year and charting four Hot 100 top 10s appear to suggest a different story of talent and hard work propelling the 23-year-old to music stardom.
In a recent interview last month with Variety, Ice addressed some of the industry plant rumors surrounding her speedy come-up in the music industry. An industry plant, for those of you who don’t know, is an artist who surges to fame seemingly overnight, usually despite a lack of obvious talent or appeal, because they receive significant backing support from a record label to materialize their popularity.
With Ice’s arguably unprecedented immediacy to hip-hop fame, it’s understandable that some listeners are skeptical vis-à-vis the legitimacy of her stardom. She first captured notable recognition in late 2022 with her track “Munch (Feelin’ U),” which went viral on both TikTok and Twitter. Over the course of a year, Ice’s music grew in popularity with multiple tracks charting on Billboard’s Hot 100 and featuring collaborations with ultra-famous music industry veterans like Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift.
Going from her first Hot 100 song to being referred to as “rap’s new princess” by The New York Times in a little over a year is debatably unheard of in the rap and hip hop sphere. Other, longer-established female rappers in the industry like Minaj, Cardi B and Megan thee Stallion all took between four and seven years to gain mainstream visibility. Such is the reason why many are suspicious of the sheer quickness in Ice’s rise to fame.
While the allegation of an “industry plant” will come up with success stories like Ice’s, it’s important to recognize the line between industry backing and intrinsic talent. There’s no doubt that in our hyperconnected society, powerful marketing and investment in an artist can catapult them to the top of the music industry. However, it is absolutely critical to remember that marketing and investment alone cannot create a genuine connection to the audience.
There’s no question that Ice is talented, with her unique flows and versatility on a myriad of beats. However, her best characteristics are her relatability and authenticity.
It’s common for celebrities to grow increasingly out of touch from their audience as they become more popular. Think Kris Jenner overenthusiastically praising Kylie Jenner, a 26-year-old mother of two, for returning a shopping cart after loading their groceries at their first ever grocery store trip in two years. Yikes.
But in the case of Ice Spice, no matter the heights of fame she has reached, she comes across as down-to-earth. Ice, herself, believes her relatability is a major factor for her rise to stardom, citing that she will always just be a regular girl from the Bronx. She even still rocks the same afro and tube top that she says she wore in high school.
It’s this ubiquitous authenticity that has captured the hearts of millions around the world and is a large reason why she has such a large following of “Munchkins” like me.
Furthermore, despite the rumors of her being an industry plant, Ice has been celebrated by numerous other top artists ranging from Drake to Swift. Having these artists of such high stature rave about her just goes to show how talented and adored she is.
At the College of William and Mary, we students are driven and dedicated to our academics, extracurriculars and other aspects of life, so it’s easy to compare our accomplishments to those of our peers and doubt the reasons why we have achieved such success.
Much like the industry plant allegations thrown onto Ice Spice, we find ourselves trying to discount their successes by saying it was undeserved or there must be other factors at play – even when the most likely reason for their success is that they worked hard and deserve it.
Let’s choose to celebrate our peers for their successes and remain true to ourselves, rather than focusing on other people. Anyways, I fear I am a Munchkin.