Now, more than ever before, social media allows celebrities to connect with their fanbases, let their authenticity shine, and share intimate details about their personal lives. There are benefits to this, but for those in the public eye, the constant pressure to perform and overshare can become frustrating. While they have every right to protect their mental health and inner peace, stars might find themselves being labeled as an “industry plant,” among other things, should they choose to set boundaries.

According to Urban Dictionary, the popular phrase is synonymous with “artists who have major/indie label backing their movement while presenting themselves as a ‘home-grown start-up’ act to create a pseudo organic following. They act as if things are miraculously happening for them based on their talent. The reality is a low-risk/high-reward situation for labels looking to build the next ‘new star.'”

In recent years, Black creators specifically have been targeted with allegations about the validity of their come-up stories. Some find themselves being put on blast by their contemporaries, while others are simply subject to scrutiny from internet sleuths and strangers. Read on to find out which rappers/singers are accused of being planted into the world of entertainment to make more money off of consumers, and share who else you believe could fit on our list in the comments.

Cardi B Denies Azealia Banks’ Allegations

Cardi B attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on September 12, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey.
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With her 2017 debut LP, Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B left her mark on the music industry, even taking home a Grammy for Rap Album of the Year. Since then, the mother of two has failed to produce a sophomore effort but has miraculously managed to stay relevant thanks to her other creative pursuits. Of all the femcees in the game, Cardi has some of the best style, and she’s been in her acting bag lately too. In the past, other lyricists have accused the New York native of being less authentic than her fans praise her for.

“She was an industry plant lmao,” Azealia Banks alleged on Twitter/X in 2022. “But sis took advantage of the opportunity and rode that b—h the f–k out. Assembled the right team, seized the moment, and made herself a cultural mainstay. [You] have to respect it,” she added. When Cardi got wind of the accusations, she addressed them in a tweet. “You can’t buy the general public, no machine, no money can buy that… You can’t buy the people,” the Hustlers starlet confirmed.

Lil Nas X Laughs off Conspiracy Theorists

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Another celebrity who hasn’t been shy about calling out conspiracy theorists is Lil Nas X. The Georgia-born creative quickly blew up with the success of his “Old Town Road” single, which only took him to further heights after Billy Ray Cyrus jumped on the remix. Like many other Black stars who find themselves on a fast-track path to success, skeptics have long questioned if Lil Nas deserves his fame and fortune.

There’s no denying that the 24-year-old is a professional at keeping us entertained and on our toes. Rather than letting comments from critics get him down, Lil Nas instead makes us laugh with his reaction videos, mocking strangers speculating how he rose to the top of the charts.

H.E.R. Grows Bored of Industry Plant Talk

H.E.R. (born Gabriella Wilson) is a one-of-a-kind vocalist, but considering how long she’s been sharing her music with us, there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the “Best Part” collaborator. As one Reddit user pointed out, Wilson earned a record deal at a young age thanks to her elevated skills. This information isn’t hidden, but some believe that marketing executives intentionally kept information about H.E.R. on the down low to strategically increase her intrigue.

“I think the secret persona marketing was actually smart and obviously worked. However, she has received a lot of Grammy nominations. 2 AOTY nominations is kinda suspect based on those albums just being compilations of EPs,” they speculated. She might not share all of her life online, but H.E.R. has still acknowledged the gossip. “I’ve seen so many bands and artists with a ‘small’ amount of followers sell out MSG and headline some huge festivals. Y’all think everybody’s underrated or an ‘industry plant’ with massive success outside of Instagram,” she told music lovers.

Russ Previously Put Chance the Rapper on Blast

To this day, hip-hop heads love revisiting Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap and other earlier projects. There’s been a noticeable change in the Chicago-based rhymer’s music over the years, and though he no longer generates the same hype of a decade ago, Chance continues to come through with new music for those who do appreciate him. Around the 14-minute mark in the Everyday Struggle interview above, “What They Want” hitmaker Russ – who’s maintained a steady audience while releasing independently – shared his thoughts on potential rap industry plants, including Chance.

Will Ice Spice Ever Beat the Industry Plant Allegations?

Industry Plants pictured: Ice Spice
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET

Finally, we have 24-year-old Ice Spice, who’s been dubbed “one of the biggest industry plants of our lifetime” in more than one Reddit thread. Her first viral hit came in the summer of 2022, when “Munch (Feelin’ U)” earned the bodacious redhead a co-sign from Drake. From there, Isis Gaston has only managed to climb further up the ladder of superstardom, collaborating with Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift on the “Princess Diana” and “Karma” remixes respectively.

Her debut LP is said to be dropping in 2024, and she’s been charting on the Hot 100 thanks to her first release of the year, “Think You Da S**t (Fart).” Nothing about what Spice has managed to do over the past year and a half is average – in fact, it’s hard to say whether we’ll ever see it done in such a manner again. The rap diva has shared in interviews that performing in front of thousands wasn’t always her dream, but for someone who’s been catapulted into the spotlight so quickly, she sure does carry herself with the confidence of a giant.