When it comes to the streets, reputation is everything. And few things can ruin your reputation as much as biting, or stealing lyrics from other rappers. “It’s the cardinal sin of hip hop,” explains A-Cross. The Chicago rapper learned the hard way in sixth grade, and was shamed for weeks by his cousins for plagiarizing lyrics the first time he tried spitting a freestyle. But for A-Cross, this turned out to be a necessary introduction into the world of hip hop, a prerequisite at the school of hard knocks that fueled his determination into becoming one of the most respected underground rappers in Illinois.
Born Alexander Ross, A-Cross was raised on the South Side of Chicago. Reserved and intellectual, he took an early interest in reading books and writing poetry. Inspired by iconic rappers like Biggie, 2Pac, Jay-Z, Nas, and DMX, he began sharpening his skills after that bout with his cousins, and by seventh grade started battle rapping other kids. Slowly building a reputation around school for his verbal swordsmanship and witty onslaught, A-Cross became one of the best rappers in his neighborhood by the time he entered high school.
“My friend Noelz and I had so much chemistry that we made seven songs in one day. We decided to burn a couple CDs and hand them out to our friends at school. By the end of the day the whole school was singing our songs. At that moment I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
Over the years A-Cross has become one of the most talked about rappers in the Midwest, but his rise hasn’t been easy. Getting kicked out of school at the age of 16, he began selling drugs to get by, which led to a series of misfortunate events. He’s been shot at, stabbed in the arm, and arrested. He’s been booed off stage, and had entire crowds literally walk out of the venue during his performances. Even his family told him to give up on his dreams.
But through sheer stubbornness and persistence, he’s established a name for himself as a notable MC. His latest EP dubbed The Passion of the Cross is a collection of razor-like rhymes and ballistic beats that delves into the concept of Christianity. “I'm not a religious rapper, but I use biblical references to illustrate a point. There are so many lessons in religious texts, the Bible specifically, that apply to our everyday lives. Although it was written thousands of years ago, it's still very relevant.”
Currently working on several new songs, A-Cross has plans for a full-length version of The Passion of the Cross, as well as a follow-up EP.
“What I want fans to take away from my music is that I'm an enlightened artist with a unique perspective. I want them to know that I’m battling the same demons as them.”