These days, thanks to the hyper-speed blur of the information superhighway, the time it takes to go from no-name struggle to marquee stardom seems shorter than ever. In the blink of an eye, the latest blog sensation you hear about blows up overnight. But in reality, most so called "overnight sensations" have put in years of work on their paths to success. In 2009, for most of us, it felt like Drake came out of nowhere and hit the game like a tidal wave with his So Far Gone mixtape. But fans of Degrassi: The Next Generation were all too familiar with the man born Aubrey Graham and a.k.a. "Wheelchair Jimmy." Meanwhile, mainstream pop fans had probably never heard of Wiz Khalifa until his song "Black and Yellow" became a No. 1 hit in 2010. But closer-listening rap fans knew Wiz from his excellent 2010 mixtape Kush & Orange Juice, and true Wiz fans had been following him since his first independent album, Show and Prove, dropped way back in 2006.
But this happens all the time. Look at Miley Cyrus. Only 21, the kiddie-country-singer-turned-ratchet-starlet spent years on the Disney channel before becoming one of the most talked about artists of 2013. Twenty-year-old Chance The Rapper blew up thanks to his mixtape Acid Rap last year. For most listeners, that was the first they'd ever heard from the Chicago rapper. But Acid Rap is his second release. He put out his first, 10 Day, in 2012.
The point is, after a year or two of hard work (sometimes, many years), if you play your cards right and get really lucky, the stars can align and your career can truly take off. That's important to keep in mind in our list of 15 Artists To Watch Out For In 2014. This isn't a list of brand-new acts that might make their first splash this year. Instead, it's 15 artists we've had our eye on for a few months or even a few years. While they've all had varying levels of success so far, we're willing to bet they're going to have their "moment" in 2014—and maybe even crossover into the mainstream. Keep your eye on them, and get ready.