Aaron Cole, a 13-year rap veteran at 17 years old, released a free EP titled If I Can Be Honest this month featuring Derek Minor, Kaleb Mitchell, Th3 Saga and more.

Rapzilla.com interviewed Cole about his EP, him being a hip-hop prodigy and him nearly hanging up the mic a year ago.

Rapzilla.com: What’s the story behind Th3 Saga’s motivational speech which opens the EP?

Aaron Cole: So one day [near the] beginning of this year, I was at home just chilling in my room. And I was getting kind of down because I hadn’t dropped any music. And I just felt pressure from a lot of people.

I remember Saga hit me up on Snap ’cause he figured out the new voice memo feature (laughs). And I remember we were just talking back and forth, and I began to share what I was feeling. He sent me back what you hear on the “Intro”, and I was like, “Bro, I gotta use this.” And the rest is history.

Wow, did his encouragement have a dramatic effect on you?

It did. When he sent it back, I felt like I could take on the world. I literally felt like the greatest. That’s why I feel like it’s important for us as brothers and sisters to encourage each other anyway we can.

Now, you said on “Can’t Tell Me Nuthin” that you almost gave up and put the mic down. Was this around the same time or a different circumstance?

Yup! It was [around] the same time. I went through like two or three months just battling because I was feeling pressure to get everything right — release music, be this perfect young man — and, real talk, almost didn’t wanna do it anymore. But people like Th3 Saga, my dad, my homie JG and Emory Anderson all reminded me to keep going and that this was my purpose.

What did they tell you about your purpose that inspired you to keep going?

Well, first they reminded me of how me being this young and making the moves that I’m making only causes the enemy to come because he wants to destroy anything that can build God’s kingdom. And how I needed to use my story of a small-town kid that dreamed of the things that are happening in my life now to build and inspire my generation that they can grind, work hard, keep God first and do whatever they want to do in life.

That’s awesome. Just out of curiosity, what was Plan B if you had quit rapping?

That’s the thing, bro. I had no clue. I was just gonna go to school, graduate and get a regular job like the rest of the world, man.

And instead of that, you hopped on a track with a Grammy Award-winning producer, Dirty Rice, and Derek Minor. How did that track happen? [“Do What I Gotta Do”]

Yeah, man, crazy. So what happened was Dirty and I were already familiar with each other because, when I was six, I did a show with Dirty and B. Cooper. And almost 10 years later, my team was like, “We think it’ll be dope if you and Dirty Rice get together and work,” so immediately I was on board.

Then in the middle of the session, Dirty said Derek was gonna stop through, and I was like, “Oh snap.” But I tried to play it cool (laughs). Then when Derek came, we just vibed out, and I played him some of my stuff, and he flipped. I think like a month later, it just made sense for him to hop on a track.

One thing about me, I don’t wanna do a feature just to do. It has to make sense, and we have to build first, and it ended up being one of the most liked songs on the EP. Derek and I actually just performed it in Rocketown last week in Nashville. It was crazy. That’s big bro.

Uhhh. Hold up. You did a show with Dirty and B. Cooper when you were six?

(Laughs) Yeah, man. Dirty and B. Coop were in a group back in the day. Dirty had long hair and everything. You can search it on YoutTube!

But how did you perform with them at age six?

Man, back then we were all just grinding artists trying to make it, bro. So it was this hip-hop showcase we both got put on by coincidence, and like 10 years later, we’re working together. It’s crazy.

What do six-year-olds know about grinding as artists? (Laughs)

Bro, I’ve been rapping since I was four. I does this! (Laughs)

But how were you pursuing this as a career that long?

My parents, man. They saw it in me when I was young and just kept pushing me. My dad had a studio when I was three, and my uncle started rapping. One day, I was sitting in the session, and then I started rapping one of my uncle’s verses word-for-word. Then they gave me a song, and the rest was history, dog!

So you’re low key a 17-year-old veteran.

Low key. But I’m still learning, man.

Download Aaron Cole’s new EP If I Can Be Honest for free on Rapzilla.com.