The 116 Life Episode 74: “Staying out of God’s Way” with Aaron Cole

In a recent episode of the 116 Life, Reach Records SVP of A&R Ace Harris and co-host Meah Evans sat down with Christian hip-hop artist Aaron Cole to discuss his life, career, and the profound changes he has experienced. This in-depth conversation delved into Aaron’s early memories of rapping, the significance of mentorship, and the personal and professional growth that has shaped his music. Here, we break down the key themes and insights from the episode that we hope will inspire like it inspired us.

Early Beginnings and Influences

Aaron’s Earliest Memory of Rapping

Aaron Cole’s journey in music began at an incredibly young age. He recalls his earliest memory of rapping at just three years old, influenced by his father’s passion for Christian hip-hop. This early exposure to music set the foundation for his future career.

Actionable Advice:

  • Start Young: Encourage young talents to explore their interests early. Exposure to music, art, or any other passion at a young age can lay a strong foundation for future growth.
  • Parental Support: Parents should nurture their children’s interests by providing resources and opportunities to explore their passions.

Performing at a Young Age

Aaron shared his experiences of performing on stage as a child, noting that he felt more confident then than he does now. This highlights the importance of early performance experiences in building confidence and stage presence.

Actionable Advice:

  • Early Exposure to Performance: Encourage young artists to perform in front of audiences, whether at family gatherings, school events, or local talent shows. This helps build confidence and stage presence.
  • Documenting Progress: Capture and cherish early performances. These moments can serve as motivation and a reminder of growth over time.

The Role of Mentorship

The Impact of Aaron’s Mentor, EJ

A significant theme in Aaron’s journey is the impact of his spiritual mentor, EJ. Aaron credits EJ with elevating his growth and personal development, emphasizing the importance of having a mentor in his life.

Actionable Advice:

  • Seek Mentorship: Aspiring artists should actively seek mentors who can provide guidance, support, and wisdom. A mentor can offer valuable insights and help navigate the challenges of the industry.
  • Be Open to Learning: Embrace the lessons and advice from mentors. Their experience and perspective can be instrumental in personal and professional growth.
Aaron Cole with Kirk Franklin and others

Career Milestones and Challenges

From Discovery to Debut

Aaron’s career took a significant turn when he was discovered by TobyMac, leading to the release of his debut album “Not by Chance.” This milestone marked the beginning of his professional journey in the music industry.

Actionable Advice:

  • Networking: Build connections within the industry. Networking can open doors to opportunities and collaborations that can propel your career forward.
  • Persistence: Stay persistent and dedicated to your craft. Success often comes to those who are willing to put in the hard work and remain committed to their goals.

Evolution and Growth

Aaron’s latest album, “Sorry I Changed,” reflects his growth and maturity as an artist. The hosts noted the evolution in his music, highlighting the more mature and evolved sound compared to his debut.

Actionable Advice:

  • Embrace Change: Artists should embrace change and growth in their music. Evolving as an artist is a natural part of the journey and can lead to more authentic and impactful work.
  • Reflect Personal Growth: Let your personal experiences and growth influence your music. Authenticity resonates with listeners and can create a deeper connection with your audience.
Aaron Cole Look@God Grateful T-Shirt

Personal Struggles and Resilience

The Inspiration Behind “Not By Chance 2”

Aaron’s album “Not By Chance 2” was inspired by his desire to break free from the perception of being solely a pop artist and assert himself as a mature artist. He faced challenges and personal struggles during the making of the album, including industry pressures and real-life situations.

Actionable Advice:

  • Stay True to Yourself: Stay true to your artistic vision and identity. It’s important to create music that reflects who you are and what you stand for, rather than conforming to industry expectations.
  • Overcome Challenges: Use personal struggles as fuel for your creativity. Adversity can lead to powerful and meaningful art that resonates with others.

The Creation of “Something About the Name” and “I Love It”

Aaron shared the process of producing “Something About the Name,” a deeply personal and spiritual endeavor. He also discussed collaborating with Kirk Franklin on the track, highlighting the significance of having the renowned gospel artist featured.

Actionable Advice:

  • Collaborate with Influences: Seek collaborations with artists who inspire you. Working with established artists can bring new perspectives and elevate your work.
  • Infuse Personal Experiences: Infuse your personal experiences and spirituality into your music. Authenticity and vulnerability can create powerful and relatable songs.

The Emotional Journey Behind “Transparent”

One of the most poignant moments in the interview was Aaron’s discussion of the song “Transparent.” He candidly shared the emotional experiences that inspired the lyrics, including his parents’ divorce and the loss of his grandmother. Aaron also revealed a harrowing account of his father’s struggle with mental health.

Actionable Advice:

  • Be Vulnerable: Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable in your music. Sharing personal stories and emotions can create a deep connection with your audience and offer solace to those facing similar struggles.
  • Address Mental Health: Address mental health openly and honestly. Music can be a powerful platform to raise awareness and provide support for those dealing with mental health challenges.
Aaron Cole with Sway

Faith and Resilience

The Role of Faith in Aaron’s Journey

Throughout the interview, Aaron emphasized the importance of faith in his life and career. He acknowledged the transformative effect of his faith and the support he received from his family and friends.

Actionable Advice:

  • Lean on Faith: Lean on your faith as a source of strength and resilience. Faith can provide guidance and support during challenging times.
  • Build a Support System: Surround yourself with supportive family and friends. A strong support system can offer encouragement and help you navigate the ups and downs of your journey.

Words of Encouragement

In conclusion, Aaron leaves the audience with words of encouragement, emphasizing the importance of faith and resilience. He underscored the message of hope and perseverance that he hopes to convey through his music.

Actionable Advice:

  • Stay Hopeful: Stay hopeful and resilient in the face of adversity. Challenges are a part of the journey, but with faith and perseverance, you can overcome them.
  • Inspire Others: Use your platform to inspire and uplift others. Your music and message can have a profound impact on listeners and offer them hope and strength.

The 116 Life: Conclusion

Aaron’s story is a testament to the power of resilience, faith, and authenticity. Aspiring artists and fans can draw valuable lessons from his experiences, finding inspiration and guidance in their own journeys. By embracing change, staying true to themselves, and leaning on faith, they too can navigate the challenges of life and create meaningful, impactful art.

Holy Culture Radio is operated by The Corelink Solution, a non-profit organization that aims to create a safe space for healing, foster unity in our communities and empower the next generation of creatives and leaders through spreading the gospel.

If you’d like to support our work, please make a donation. No amount is too small. You can also shop our online store to help spread awareness of our mission. Again, thank you and remember to be encouraged and be blessed.


The start of the show (00:00:00) Introduction to the episode and hosts, Meah Evans and Ace Harris, discussing their week and the upcoming episode.

Aaron’s journey and recent vacation (00:02:06) Meah and Ace discuss Aaron’s early career and his recent vacation to Antigua.

Describing the current season of life (00:03:24) Aaron talks about his recent album release, being newly married, and the changes in his life.

Balancing personal growth and ambition (00:03:58) Aaron discusses maintaining his hunger for success while also finding balance in his life and career.

The changes reflected in his recent album (00:04:46) Aaron talks about the changes he has experienced, including moving to a new record label and personal life changes.

Letting go and personal growth (00:07:00) Aaron discusses the personal changes he has had to make and the struggles with pride and self-centeredness.

The role of a mentor in his life (00:11:07) Aaron talks about the influence of his mentor, Ej, and the importance of having a spiritual mentor in his life.

Early memories of rapping (00:14:00) Aaron shares his earliest memories of rapping, starting at a young age and growing up in a musical family.

Singing in Church (00:16:07) Aaron discusses his singing journey from the church worship team to incorporating it into his music with Toby.

Meeting Toby (00:16:31) Aaron explains how he was discovered by Toby through a mutual connection and the process of getting signed.

Preparation for Music Career (00:18:21) Aaron talks about the intense training and mentorship he received from his father to prepare for his music career.

High School and Music Career (00:20:10) Aaron shares his experience of keeping his music career a secret in high school and his efforts to graduate early.

Relationship and Divine Intervention (00:22:21) Aaron recounts a pivotal relationship and how divine intervention guided him to focus on his music career.

Growth and Trust in God (00:27:14) Aaron discusses how his relationship with the Lord transformed and the significance of his song “Right on Time.”

Debut Album and Evolution (00:30:51) The hosts and Aaron reflect on the evolution of his music, comparing his debut album “Not By Chance” to his latest album “Sorry I Changed.”

Back Against the Wall (00:31:40) Aaron discusses the challenges and changes he faced during the making of his album “Not By Chance Two.”

Something About the Name and I Love It (00:33:03) Aaron talks about the creation of these songs, including the inspiration behind the lyrics and the collaboration with Kirk Franklin.

Healthy Competition and Support in the Industry (00:36:27) Aaron shares his views on healthy competition, support, and celebrating each other’s success in the Christian hip-hop industry.

Transparent (00:38:15) Aaron opens up about personal struggles, family dynamics, and the emotional journey behind his song “Transparent.”

Proof and Redemption (00:42:27) Aaron shares a powerful story about his father’s redemption, the impact on his family, and the message of faith and resilience in his music.

Final Words of Encouragement (00:45:17) Aaron emphasizes the importance of faith and belief in a greater reality, offering words of encouragement to the listeners.

Related Radio Show: 116 Life