An Interview with Boston Collective ‘2020’

By: Shamus Hill 

During the past couple of weeks, among my usual tastes of local music, I was blessed to come across some music from Boston artists Kleo and Gio $hyne, both of which impressed me greatly upon first listen. The two rappers are a part of a collective by the name 2020, also consisting of rapper Briefcvse and producer Christian Yoon. With the assistance of Yoon’s stellar production, Kleo, Gio, and Briefcvse have each individually begun to develop their own respective sounds and truly carve out their spots in Boston’s rapidly growing music scene. I’m a huge fan of the fact that these four have chosen to work collectively with one another, especially due to the fact that each individual member has their own unique sound that distinctly separates them from the other members of 2020 – coming together to form a whole that can’t be stopped or imitated.

After speaking with Kleo, we quickly hopped on the idea of doing their first interview. They’ve been grinding, and with that being said, their work hasn’t gone unnoticed and it has come time that we show them some of the love they deserve. During my conversation with the artists, we touched upon their early influences, musical styles, and how long they’ve all been chillin’ with one another. Following the interview you’ll find a playlist of 2020’s music, so be sure to dive-in and discover some new gems.

Here’s everything to know on Boston’s ‘2020’.

Where are you guys from?

Kleo: I’m from Roxbury, Gio’s from Dorchester, Christian’s from West Roxbury and Briefcvse is from JP.

Approximately when did you guys begin making music?

Gio: We all linked up about a year back. I started writing songs from seeing my older brother rapping when I was younger, but I’ve been taking it serious since I dropped my song “Prey” a year ago.

Christian Yoon: Yeah I’ve been making beats since my senior year of high school and for a minute I was just doing my own shit, but I’ve been working with my friends for like the last 2 years or so.

Briefcvse: I started making music in junior year of high school. I started recording these joke tracks at my friend Gibson’s (TropicanaBwoy) house.

Kleo: I made music with Gibson too in high school then with Briefcvse junior and senior year, but I got serious like last year.

Are you in school, working outside of music, or devoting all of your time to music at this point in your lives?

Christian Yoon: Me and Case are in school, Gio and Kleo aren’t. We all got part-time jobs. I think we’re all spending the majority of our time on music right now. It’s pretty much all we do, it’s where all our focus is at.

Out of all of the music you’ve released thus far, which track would you say is your favorite?

Briefcvse: My favorite track that I’ve made so far is “Precipice”. Gio and Christian forced it on the beat and I’m really happy with how the concept came together.

Kleo: I like “Toyota” the most. It feels the most beautiful and artistic to me. It’s like just about finding something you love and don’t want to give up on and the song just feels mad warm and mad me.

Christian Yoon: I made a beat tape last year called “Kintsugi” based on the summer of 2016. It really felt like a snapshot of that time in my life and I’m still really proud of it.

Gio: The hit right now is “Gas In My Head” – everybody messes with that one. But I’ve mainly been listening to my newest song “When I’m In It”.

Why did you guys start making music? Any family influences?

Christian Yoon: Nobody in my family makes music but they’re all just kinda casual listeners. I really just started because I liked it. Music was really important to me in high school so I constantly checked the internet for new shit. I just wanted to get involved in making it somehow and wasn’t tryna rap so yeah, I torrented logic and started making beats.

Briefcvse: I started making music because my friends were doing it, but no-one in my family was big into iWriting becameame a means of dealing with issues in my personal life but it definitely didn’t start as that.

Gio: I had seen my brother rapping and doing shows while I was growing up, so being a rapper was normal to me and I was tryna write songs from when I was ten. In highschool, I saw Boston rappers buzzing and I started producing and recording. Since then, I started putting stuff out it’s been natural.

Kleo: School was super duper mega whack and I realized like in 10th grade, the only thing that I really connected with deeply was music, and I have a tough time putting effort into things I don’t love. Nobody in my family does anything musical. It was kind of weird starting – I felt like I was really starting from the ground up.

Do you incorporate any past life experiences into your music? If so, how?

Gio: My music is about the vibe. I like to touch on some of the shit I’m going through in life and let you know what’s going on with me. I’ve been going through a lot of shit recently and it’s all made its way into the music somehow. It’s darker.

Briefcvse: My music is all past experiences. It’s therapeutic for me to write about my own life – it helps me process it.

Christian Yoon: Yeah, my last project was all based on mental snapshots and journal entries from last summer, and even now when I make beats I’m usually either inspired by other music or feeling something I want to express.

Kleo: Yeah sometimes, but it’s mostly feelings, thoughts, or imaginative scenarios.

How long have you all known each other? I’ve seen on SoundCloud that all of you have done an extensive amount of work with one another. Is this more of a recent thing or have all of you always made music collaboratively?

Kleo: We all went to high school together, I became friends with Briefcvse first, and me and Gio became friends senior year, then Christian linked up with us like last year. Me and Case been making songs for a grip, but we started making music all together once we linked up with Christian.

Individually, would each of you mind touching upon your music making process? What’s usually the vibe? What’s the studio like? Do you typically all record with one another?

Briefcvse: My writing process varies. I’m either writing by myself in my room or on the train on the way to school. I record my stuff on the microphone in my bedroom but we usually record together.

Christian Yoon: My process really depends. Sometimes I’m inspired by a sample, sometimes I just find a chord or melody I like, it really just depends. Also, I could be anywhere as long as I have my laptop and headphones.

Kleo: Every night before I go to sleep I go through beats and try to write to them, and then I bounce ideas with the rest of the team when I think a cool song comes out. I like to record with my engineer Rysk. I like a lot of people at the studio so that I just have as many ideas and impressions around as possible.

Gio: Usually I’ll be going through beats and write a song real quick when I get inspired. Other than that if I have something to say or I’m just in the mood for it I’ll also write lyrics and put them to a beat I like later. Lately, I’ve been recording at Briefcvse’s crib so the studio is never empty.

Who are some of your biggest artistic influences?

Kleo: Tyler the Creator, Lupe Fiasco and J. Cole got me into wanting to make music, but a lot of my inspirations come from anime and television.

Gio: I like sonics like Rocky and Kanye, and writers who have a way with words like Earl. Growing up my brother always listened to drill music, so shit like early Keef left a mark on me – he probably taught me how to flow.

Christian Yoon: In music, the list is super long. Early Odd Future like when I was in high school, Shlohmo, and Andre 3000 come to mind, but there are so many more. Outside of music, I like some directors and photographers. I’m really fucking with Ren Hang right now, he’s a chinese photographer.

Briefcvse: LILUGLYMANE is hands down my biggest influence. His vocabulary is insane and his beats are fire. Besides that I’m really inspired by the comedian Demetri Martin. He wrote a 224 word poem called “I’m Mad” that was palindrone. That’s crazy to me.

I’m sure you’ve seen the music scene in MA blowing up as of late – are there any specific artists that you guys are fucking with? Any artists from the area that you would like to collaborate with in the future? 

Briefcvse: Najee Janey is one of my favorites in Boston. He’s got an incredible voice both when he’s rapping and when he’s singing. The music he’s working on now is crazy too, he just hasn’t released in a while.  Also Kadeem is fire, I think he’s such a good writer.

Christian Yoon: Stripes iii is my favorite rapper in Boston I think. Other than that, Najee, Sean, and Milkshaw. All of Most High, that whole camp. There are a lot of artists in the city that I want to work with, I think the timing will just have to be right.

Kleo: I rock with Michael Christmas the most, I feel like his music sounds so complete and has mad personality. I’d like to work with him, Durkin, and Haasan Barclay. Hopefully there will be more of a spotlight and more resources and opportunities in 3-5 years.

Gio: I rock with Stizz and Sean a lot, but other than them the only Boston music I really listen to is me and my friends.

How do you feel about the music scene in MA in general?

Briefcvse: I feel pretty positive about the music scene in MA. The Boston scene has grown so much since I was younger and I hope it continues to grow. As far as the rest of MA, I definitely need to explore more.

Gio: Our scene’s cool, we got some names but it feels like only a couple have popped off outside the city so far. What everybody’s doing now is gonna have a lot of impact soon.

Christian Yoon: Yeah I think it’s growing. There are definitely some awkward growing pains that come with that, but yeah.

Kleo: It’s mad cool to see it blossom into what it is now and finding new stuff every once in awhile is refreshing.

Have you ever had a live performance before? If so, how was that? If not, are there currently any plans in the works to make that happen?

Kleo: I’m the only one who has really performed. It was nothing big but we’re looking for opportunities to get some shows going.

Any artists you are currently listening to?

Christian Yoon: Lucki, The Smiths, Frank Ocean. Blond is like one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. I like Teen Suicide right now, too. Also Ariel Pink, Aphex Twin and Young Dolph.

Briefcvse: I’m currently listening to Lord Apex, Orion Sun, $ean Wire, Antwon, Isaiah Rashad, and Joao Gilberto.

Gio: Lately I’ve just been driving around to Earl Sweatshirt and Lucki. Some albums I’ve been playing are Live Love A$AP, Late Registration, and Blond.

Kleo: Dom Kennedy, Lil Ugly Mane, Foggieraw, Isaiah Rashad, Divine Council, Denzel Curry, Mick Jenkins, Quentin Miller, Ski Mask, Corbin, and Lucki.

What are each of you currently working on?

Gio: There’s a lot of unreleased stuff that I’m starting to drop now. I got a video for “Gas In My Head” on the way too. The shit I’m working on right now could turn into a tape, but I’m gonna let it happen naturally.

Briefcvse: Right now I’m working on an EP with Christian that has a comic paired with it. The comic is dialogue free and the songs tell the story of the comic book. The story was written by me and it’s going to be illustrated by my friend Nick. I’m hoping we can finish it by early next year but I’ll be releasing singles until then.

Christian Yoon: Yeah besides working with these guys, I’ve been working with Najee, Sean and Milk. Also my other homies from the KhromeHeartz camp, shoutout to them. And I’ve recently started sending beats to people who I’ve wanted to work with for a minute, so we’ll see how that goes.

Kleo: I’ve just been putting my all into making songs but who knows, something my come together from it.

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