In a crowded category of fresh talent, Chance the Rapper beat out the competition to take home the Grammy for best new artist. The “No Problem” rapper won against fellow nominees Kelsea Ballerini, the Chainsmokers, Maren Morris and Anderson .Paak.
While there was no clear frontrunner in this year’s pack, there were signs. Each artist brought something new to the table, whether it be soulful vibes or country twang.
Chance the Rapper was nominated for seven awards in total, able to compete for the first time in his career due to a rule change that allowed streaming, unsigned artists to be nominated. With a career blessed by Kanye West himself, and a new album (“Coloring Book”) featuring him too, the Chicago-native has blasted the scene open with his signature yips, howls and soul. Ahead of the show, he won best rap performance for his “No Problem.”
In an emotional speech, Chance the Rapper thanked God and “all of Chicago” for the win. The Windy City-born rapper started to get played off, but, in a comedic moment, he protested, “I’m gonna talk. Y’all can play the music if you want.”
His fellow nominees were no slouches either. Morris, whose debut album “Hero” was up for best country album, had four nominations in total. The 26-year-old country songstress has already been validated as musically relevant with “Hero” landing at #5 on the Billboard 200 and number one on their top country albums list.
Morris was joined in the category by fellow country singer Kelsea Ballerini, who at 21 became the first solo female artist in 15 years to hit number one with her first two country singles, “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Dibs.” The duo mark the first time in the history of the Grammys that two country artists have received nominations in the best new artist category in the same year.
The Chainsmokers were seemingly everywhere this year, too, with their collaboration with Halsey, “Closer,” staying at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 consecutive weeks and earning the three a nom for best pop duo/group performance.
Anderson .Paak’s second studio album, “Malibu, ” also received widespread praise and a nom for best urban contemporary album. The drummer-turned-singer/rapper has been touring around colleges much like Chance did a few years back, building his brand and picking up fans along the way. His neo-soul tunes also locked down his spot as one of the XXL Freshman for the 2016 class. .Paak’s in good company; not since Frank Ocean four years ago has any artist been nominated for both best new artist and urban contemporary album.