Lester Cardoz is winning hearts among Goans by rapping in Konkani
Mumbai musician Lester Cardoz is winning hearts among Goans in the country by rapping in Konkani
Born in a Goan family from Kalina, rapper Lester Cardoz grew up hearing Konkani, but it wasn't until he watched Bardroy Barretto's 2016 film, Nachom-ia Kumpasar (Dance to the Rhythm), that he felt a sense of pride in the language. The film, which won three national awards, six international awards and even made it to the Oscar list in the Best Picture and Best Original Score categories, celebrates Goan music through the eyes of two legendary musicians of the 1960s. It also features 20 Konkani songs originally composed by Goan songwriter Chris Perry, on whom the film is based. "I was keenly aware of the stereotypes surrounding Goans… that we drink a lot and are laidback. Nobody until then had cared to put a spotlight on the substantial contribution made by Goan musicians to the Hindi film industry," says Cardoz, whose favourites include Tuzho Mog and Santosh Bogta.
Inspired, he decided to consume more Konkani music, but he met disappointment. While he was thrilled to discover classics that he hadn't heard before, there was little original content being produced. "I decided I'd change things," he says. Today, the 29-year-old is a sensation among Goans, especially the diaspora. Along with English and Hindi, he raps in Konkani. In fact, his compositions have earned him the moniker, Bomoi cho Goenkar (Bombay's beloved Goan). His latest song, Don beer aah che glass (two glasses of beer), that released last month on YouTube, is inspired by his father who moved to Dubai on work when Lester was young. "The response has been encouraging. It was a very personal story about what I felt when a family member was forced to stay away in order to earn a living. It resonated with those living out of the state, because so many Goans move out for better prospects," he says.
But it has taken Cardoz work to get here. With help from his mother, he brushed up on his Konkani, which had, after years in Mumbai, become a "bhelpuri of sorts". His cousins from Goa sent him books on Konkani grammar. "The last thing I wanted was to anger purists by singing in amateur Konkani," he says.
Last year, on a whim, he wrote Bebdo (drunkard) named after legendary Konkani singer Lorna Cordeiro's famous song of the same name. The song explored heartbreak and how it can change the way you perceive life. Understandably, it appealed to the millenials. These days, Cardoz has been receiving messages and comments from aspiring Konkani singers from Goa who want to collaborate with him.
Meanwhile, at the Cardoz household, there's space for every genre of music. While elder brother, Vicky, digs Bollywood, both old and new, his younger brother, Arnold is a death metal fan. But they're all united in their love for music.
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