Ahead of his debut India gig, Rastafarian singer Ti Rat on using reggae to highlight social issues.
Going strictly by today’s pop culture references, you’d think the Rastafarian lifestyle is all about dreadlocks, marijuana, and Bob Marley. There’s little trace of what the philosophy stands for: love, respect for nature, and equal rights and justice for everyone.
However, reggae singer Ti Rat’s (real name Joseph Alain Lebeau; 47) music is about fighting all kinds of discrimination. He calls himself a committed disciple of Rastafarianism. “Today, the message has been diluted. If you are standing every day within Babylon walls [Babylon refers to a system based on slavery], it is necessary to have another vision of life to live in Zion [utopia],” he says.
Ti Rat believes in making a statement through reggae. “My vision of Rasta is not a mood. It is the solution to free the chains of oppression. I’ve been playing for more than 20 years, and I always sing for social causes,” he says.
Based in Réunion Island (a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean), he is currently on an India tour with his band, Ti Rat & Rouge Reggae. After performing in Goa, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune, he will play at Nariyal Paani in Alibaug this weekend. He says he is excited about his maiden India visit, having heard Indian music since his youth. “I will definitely take the time to go to cultural places and try Indian food. Indian culture represents a large part of our culture in Reunion Island, so it’s a bit like home,” he says.
Music runs in the Lebeau family. Ti Rat’s grandfather was a violinist and a banjo player, and his grandmother was a singer. He formed Ti Rat & Rouge Reggae 20 years ago, with his wife Diane. Today, while Diane helps their daughter with her school work, their sons are part of the band.
“Lunaic (24), my elder son, learnt to play drums when he was 10, and Yoann (22), the younger one, has been playing the trombone since he was 15,” he says. Diane too, is a part of the band, handling the admin aspects and occasionally joining them on stage.
What: Ti Rat & Rogue Reggae will perform at Nariyal Paani on January 22, 6pm onward
Where: Morapada, Rewas Road, Alibag
Tickets: Rs 3,800 (for both days) on insider.in