Aaron Cole on Signing with TobyMac, His New Album, & the Future
Recent Gotee Records signee Aaron Cole is making a splash in Christian music with his versatility in both rapping and singing. At just 18-years-old he’s making all the right moves and decisions, but don’t call it “beginners luck” because he’s been doing this for years.
The Gotee Records relationship started around two years ago for Cole. He has worked closely with the producers and management there as he developed into the artist he is today. Essentially he was in the Minor Leagues, and the label confirmation was his call-up.
“I’m definitely glad I went through the whole phase, before this, I thought I was ready,” Cole said. “I had to grow up first, even in my walk with Christ.”
He’s grateful for what Gotee brings to the table and is proud to be part of a label that has Christian hip-hop royalty as a part of it – TobyMac and GRITS.
In fact, his boss, and at times coach and mentor, is TobyMac himself, who founded the label with partner Joey Elwood in the mid-90s.
“Being in the studio with Toby, he just showed me that every line matters, every word, every syllable matters,” he said. “He’s patient and lets me take my time with my craft.”
All along the way Cole is able to glean knowledge and insight from Toby’s near 30 years creating music. The emcee explained that he “knows the stuff we definitely don’t know.”
“He’s very involved with my career and music. He has an ear for what will work and what will not work just by living life and being in music longer. He just wants to see me and all the other artists win.”
Cole is inspired by Toby’s character and hopes to “love people well” throughout his career in the same way.
“It has a lot to do with God. As a person, he just has a great character. He loves people well and he loves his craft and he just enjoys doing what he loves,” he said. “He doesn’t do anything by himself, he keeps God first. The one thing that’s keeping him that a lot of artists don’t do, is to treat people well – over all the relationships he’s made over the years.”
With the label signing becoming official, there is undoubtedly a new album on the way. The first taste of that was in the form of the song and music video, “Right On Time” featuring TobyMac.
“It was awesome. That song is definitely needed, a lot of people relate to it. The video is fun and uplifting,” said Cole.
The track featured no rap vocals from Cole and saw him singing his verse and the chorus. This harkens back to the versatility mentioned at the beginning of this interview. He feels right at home singing or rapping and does whatever he feels is called for on the song.
“I was singing on a lot of hooks and some features. It was preparing for this record which is not going to be all singing or all rapping, it’ll be right in the middle. I call my music hybrid right now. You can get a whole lot of whatever,” Cole said. “I like pop music, R&B music, I like hip-hop.”
He continued, “I’m still going to give you bars, and I’m going to make good music and give out the music that I feel is going to make you grow and get closer to God.”
He’s working on a project and the only thing he can say right now is that “it’s coming and it’s going to be a level up.” Cole is in the studio working with Cobra and Solomon Olds, formerly of Family Force 5 to shape his sound.
This “level up” will only continue to build on the quality of music Aaron Cole puts out. People are always amazed at what he creates and add his young age to it. For him, it could get a bit “tiresome” but he’s ultimately cool with it.
“‘Oh you’re good for 18’, what does that mean? I’ve heard it at every age, but I see it as a compliment,” he said. “I’m just being me and creating music while staying in my lane and not listening to what people want me to be. I’m staying true to God and myself.”
At the time of this interview, Aaron Cole was in the midst of the Sessions tour with Canon and Deraj. Many artists say that each tour is a learning experience. For Cole, this tour helped him find himself as an individual.
“I’ve learned this year that the only thing that works with your set and with life is being you,” revealed Cole. “Me, Canon, and Deraj talk about it all the time, if you’re trying to be like one another, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t fit. It’s ok to get inspired by other people, but trying to be like them is never going to work because you are not being true to yourself. You’re not being the artist God called you to be.”
What Cole feels called to be more so than even a Christian rapper, is a complete Christian artist. He doesn’t want to be confined to the “CHH bubble.” In a day where many people feel Christian rappers are running from that title, Cole is trying to broaden the scope of his Christian spectrum by moving beyond rapper to an artist.
“I came in as a Christian artist, that’s how I’m going to stay,” he said. “To be real, if we’re being honest, even if the ones that say ‘rapper that’s a Christian’, to the world we’re still seen as Christian rappers. You can try to break out of the bubble, but we’re talking about God and our life experiences in a godly way. They’re going to say, ‘Oh he’s a Christian rapper because it’s something different’. This is my opinion, I have friends that are rappers that are Christians, but me, I’m just a Christian artist, I do a little bit of everything.”
In 2018 and beyond Cole hopes to continue to build and expand his artistry. He said he’d loved to collaborate with KB and Derek Minor, his “G.O.A.T.” rappers.
Outside of hip-hop, he’d love to work with Tori Kelly, Jordan Feliz, Jonathan McReynolds, Jon Bellion, and even do a collab with Hillsong.
“If you’re killing it and dope, I’d really like to work with you.”
Back when Cole spoke to Rapzilla he was excited at the fact his song “Right On Time” reached the top 5 in the Billboard Christian Hot AC/CHR National Airplay. Well, now just a few weeks later he has hit number one. Before he said he was humbled to even be in the top 5.
“AYO I GOT A NUMBER 1 SONG God is good fam. thank you guys I couldn’t do it without Y’all. this is nuts… I don’t even know what to say,” he posted on social media when he found out.
The accomplishments and notoriety make him feel great, but they pale in comparison to what he’s ultimately trying to accomplish on a kingdom level.
“The thing that’s really in my heart is fulfilling God’s purpose for me. In doing that, I feel a lot of rewards and things like that are coming if I just keep Him first,” Cole shared. “In a couple of years, I just hope to be at the top of my game and the best me I can be making the best music of my life, touring, selling out shows, giving people hope and giving people Christ. I want to tell them it’s ok to mess up and fall, we don’t have to be perfect because we serve a perfect God.”
Aaron Cole has been featured on songs by Hollyn, Canon, Deraj and DJ Maj. In 2016, Cole was inducted into Rapzilla’s Freshman Class and noted by Essence Magazine as one of 16 gospel artists to watch. His 2016 EP If I Can Be Honest debuted top 30 on the iTunes Rap/Hip-Hop albums charts and was named the year’s Best Free Project by Rapzilla.