Meet Krookz, the Rising LA Producer to RonSoCold, UnoTheActivist, SmokePurpp, Famous Dex & More!
23-year-old producer Patrick "Krookz" Russo caught my attention earlier this year and I've become quite the fan since then. Hailing from Paramount, California in LA County, he managed to go from sponsored skateboarder, to a teenage DJ spinning at some of the best 21+ Hollywood nightclubs, to a national HS baseball star with a college scholarship. After getting into a bad motorcycle accident at 17 and not being able to play anymore, he decided to go all in on music and never look back.
Just 2.5 years ago, he began his rise as a beat-maker for some of todays hottest rappers like RonSoCold, UnoTheActivist, SmokePurpp, Famous Dex and more. I had the pleasure of speaking with Krookz about his incredible journey, upbringing, working in the industry, his upcoming project and more. Check it out below and be sure to listen to some of his favorite tracks that he has produced thus far.
VA: What was it like growing up in Los Angeles County?
K: Childhood was up and down, not everybody’s perfect, but I had my struggles as a kid. Growing up, my family was musically-orientated but more on the Spanish side. My aunt is a famous singer in Mexico. And growing up as a kid, I would watch my brother DJ and stuff and I would always play with his records and my dad, who recently just passed away, he was DJing back in the 70s.
I’ve liked music all of my life but my sister got me into Hip Hop music a lot. She influenced me a lot on Hip-Hop music because she would always listen to Tupac, Biggie, Dr. Dre, Timbaland and stuff. It influenced me to want to do music even more and take it to the next level, I started collecting records and stuff.
How did your family feel when they found out you were going to seriously pursue music?
I would say they didn’t really support my music until they actually started seeing me do stuff. Right now they support me 110% but when I first started they were like “What are you going to do? There’s so much competition” and I just had to push myself to the next level.
When did you begin DJing?
I started when I was like 12-years-old and started doing the 21+ clubs all around Hollywood when I was like 16-17 with one of my boys out here named DJ Flippp. He started producing and went his own way and then we ended up linking again but that’s just how it started.
I wanted to get my name out there but it's like, with DJing I feel you hit a certain mark. You’re climbing a ladder and you get to a point where it’s like, what are you going to do next? Are you only going to DJ or are you going to step it up? So I started producing 2.5 years ago and just been on it ever since.
Where did the name 'Krookz' come from?
The name Krookz came from a buddy of mine that passed away. He was a tagger and he just gave it to me. He was like “Ay bro, you’re going to DJ? I’m going to call you Krookz!” and he was like my older friend who got killed and I stuck with that name because he motivated me as a person. He taught me to not let anything stop me, he believed in my talented, told me to keep going and never give up.
When was the moment you realized that you could really do something with producing?
Honestly, just the support. I’m the biggest critic of myself ever, sometimes I doubt myself so much. It’s just people that I connected with, shared my music with, and the music speaking for itself. That’s it, my music spoke for itself.
What/who do you credit for helping you get to this point as a producer?
I would just say like my work ethic and not being afraid. I wasn’t afraid. The only way that people were going to know about me was if I was just being myself. Yeah, people can help me out but the main person that’s going to get you there is yourself. When I had the opportunity to be with these artists, I was confident and I told them what I did and to check me out. Everyone sends emails, and those can be hard to get to for an artist. I networked so much early on and learned how to talk to people from my DJing days. Not even being 6 months into producing, I was already trying to work with everybody.
You’ve worked with familiar names like Lil Tracy, UnoTheActivist, Purpp, Warhol, and many more. Who was one of the first and how did that happen?
The first one was Uno. I was at one of my old manager’s studio and Uno was there. He heard one of my beats and asked to get on it and from right there, we linked up and basically connected. After that, everyone else started to want to work with me because they seen that and also from me just being in the studio. My old manager Big E had everyone coming to his studio and he was managing me when I started producing at the time. I was able to make good connections.
How would you describe your style as a producer?
I would say I’m so versatile, I don’t really have a “style”. People say that I have one but I still feel like I barely have my feet wet and I have a lot of developing left to do. You know? As far as right now, it caters to what’s going on right now.
When you sit down to make a beat, what does your process look like?
Sometimes it goes off of how I’m feeling. Usually, I just fall asleep with music playing in my headphones and wake up listening to music then get a idea for what the day feels like. If it has been up and down, I’ll make something dark or if it’s chill maybe some R&B. I go with the flow too, I’ll just start playing some piano to find a tone and then go from there.
Usually I’ll lock myself in the studio for 5 to 10 hours a day, trying to make sure I knock out like 5 to 10 beats a day. During the day I try to be on it and during the night I try to market.
Where do you see yourself in the next 3 to 5 years?
I see myself hopefully winning a Grammy, being on the Billboard charts, being able to feed my family even more off of it, and hopefully I’m able to open a studio. In my hometown, studios are an hour and a half away to good studios and I want to build a studio or facility so we can have a class for people who don’t have money for equipment. I want to help develop young upcoming producers that want help.
Tell me about your upcoming project?
My inspiration is putting out a demo like how DJ Mustard does for example. He basically produces his own tracks and features artists that he’s worked with. So he inspired me to do that, watching the way he moves. There’s no title for it yet.