Chance the Rapper vs Anderson .Paak: Who Will Win Best “New” Artist (and Why)?

Two artists that exploded in popularity in 2016 were Chance The Rapper and Anderson .Paak. Both are up for Best New Artist at next month’s Grammys.

But to hardcore music fans, these two are hardly new; they’ve been on the radar for a while. So what exactly do we mean what we say Best New Artist? With their polar opposite success stories, Chance and Anderson represent a pretty perfect test case.

Back in 2012, Chance introduced himself with 10 Day. But it was his 2013 project Acid Rap that really put him on the map. With features from Action Bronson, Childish Gambino, and Twista, Chance’s popularity was already undeniable. He only carried that momentum with Surf in 2015.

Over a year after Chance’s breakout mixtape, Anderson dropped his biggest project yet, Venice. Without the same star-powered feature list as Acid Rap, that tape flew a little more under the radar.

And by that point, Paak had already been grinding in the music industry for years. It wasn’t until 2015, when Dr. Dre handpicked Anderson to work on Compton, that he really started to make mainstream noise.

So if Chance’s career can be summed up as a rapid ascent with some immediate success, Anderson’s was more of a long, winding path with a late explosion of recognition. Chance was a star straight out of high school; it took Anderson until his late 20s to achieve similar fame.

Which brings us back to the original question: what exactly do we value more in our Best New Artist? The young prodigy, or the late bloomer?

Yes, the quality of music and popularity of the artist in 2016 should matter most. But for me, the best new artist should be one who is – surprise! – newer to the largest amount of people. Most would agree Anderson was more of an unknown at the beginning of last year than Chance was. After all, Anderson was part of XXL‘s Freshmen class in 2016two full years after Chance. That gives him the edge for me.

But with co-signs from Kanye and, yes, Obama, Chance’s visibility may make him the odds-on favorite, and give him a better shot at the award… and that’s without even considering the non-hip- hop acts gunning for the same prize.

What do you think? Hit us up.

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