Q&A: Rapper Aaron Cole is 'grateful' for spot on TobyMac's tour
Aaron Cole's world of faith and music collided when he was just a toddler.
His father had a music studio in the family's Virginia home and young Cole began mimicking the musical stylings of his rapper uncle who came by for recording sessions.
"I started rapping when I was 3," Cole said during a recent telephone interview.
The Christian hip-hop recording artist and TobyMac protege will be part of the musical lineup at TobyMac's Hits Deep concert set for Tuesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. He was awarded a Dove Award for New Artist of the Year in 2019 and has garnered many other accolades in the years since he hit the professional music scene.
In the interview, Cole, 20, spoke about his musical beginnings, his work with contemporary Christian recording artist Toby McKeehan, also known as TobyMac, and his latest work.
Q: What can fans expect from your portion of the Hits Deep concert?
A: I'm definitely doing some of my older hits in the Hits Deep tour, and I'm definitely doing some of my newer hits, too. It's going to be great. Me and my DJ put together a pretty good show so I'm excited about it.
Q: How does it feel to be on TobyMac's tour? I know he signed you to his Gotee record label.
A: I got signed when I was 15. I was in the artist development process, and I came out in 2017 with "Right on Time." It's been great. I remember when I put out the song and it caught fire so they put me on the tour. This is my third Hits Deep tour. God has been good. I'm grateful.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a recording artist and that you wanted your work to focus on the Gospel?
A: I started rapping when I was 3. My dad, he had a studio in our house back in Bristol, Virginia. Different artists would come in and out and record. Just looking up to my dad and be under him, I was in sessions when my uncle who used to be a Christian rapper would come in. He would do his rap, and I would mimic his rap and memorize it. They decided to write me something, and I started singing at 7. I grew up in a Christian home. When I turned 12, that's when I met Jesus for myself. That's when God showed that this is my calling because from there, I just worked really hard to get to where I'm at now and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Q: You have numerous songs, but you're known for a couple — "Right on Time" and "One More Day." Why do you think these songs resonated with fans?
A: I think with those two songs, they are my radio songs, so more people have heard those songs because of radio. I'm honest with my music so songs like "Right on Time," I'm being honest about where I'm at with God.
Q: In 2018, you collaborated with TobyMac on the song "Starts with Me." What was that like?
A: It was great. He hit me up and said 'Man, I have this song.' He had a whole different song, and he actually trusted me to switch the song totally. So with "Starts With Me," me and my producer, we kind of just changed the whole beat up and we kept his (TobyMac) verses. We all came together and made it even better. It was great to work with a legend on that. It's great to work with Toby because he pushes me to go to a higher level.
Q: What do you find rewarding about your career?
A: I think the main reward for me is knowing that God uses my music to inspire people to heal people, to get people through situations. When I hear stories from the (concerts) shows, it always encourages me to keep going and make songs that are for the people. It's not about me at all.
Q: What can you fans expect from you next?
A: I just dropped a two-song project called "ALTY." One meaning of it is about me (an acronym) winning Artist of The Year, but the other meaning that I feel like God gave me was 'All of This is Yours.' I think God was just showing me that all the accolades belong to God and that I owe it all to God. Both of the songs are just talking about me winning awards, the life and the head space that I was in and figuring out that the only thing that matters, the only thing that is going to last is what's done for God.
Tobymac's Hits Deep concert
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 4. Doors open at 5:45 p.m.Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, 100 W Reno.Information: tobymac.com.