Baptized In The Ghetto
GroundBreaking Records
September 23, 2007

Track list
  1. Baptized In The Ghetto
  2. Jah Rescue Me
  3. Help The Poor w/ Donny Dread & V. Benjamin
  4. Bling-Bling
  5. Legalize The Herb
  6. Jealousy
  7. Empress Of The Earth
  8. Tell The Children
  9. Tell Me Bout Selassie
  10. Praises Unto The Father
  11. Enjoy Life
  12. Babylon Lie
  13. Reggae King
  14. Loose A Finger
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 2
Compilation sets like I Grade Records' much acclaimed "Weep Not" set, Reggae Bubblers' "Black Star Liner Vols. 1, 2 and 3", "7th St. Faren Heights", and Natural Vibes' "Itinualjah" introduced its listeners to the works of young chanter Michael Lionel a.k.a. Xkaliba from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, who contributed songs like "Babylon Pan We Mind", "Raspect The Ladies", "Come Together", "Problem", "Life", "Reggae Lives On", "Bling-Bling", "Enjoy Life" and "Baptized In The Ghetto".

Xkaliba -- the 'Original Nine Fingers' as he labeled himself since his right hand was crushed in a machine while working a summer job in a metal shop in 1992, which made that his right index finger was amputated -- belongs to a group of lesser known V.I. roots artists, who already have shown potential on compilation albums, but are waiting for an international breakthrough. On the basis of his musical efforts gathered on this debut album, there's no doubt Xkaliba will succeed in his mission to become a familiar name amongst reggae fans on a far wider scale. While listening to this collection of tunes names like UK chatter Macka B (check "Bling-Bling"), Lovindeer, Papa San, Professor Nuts and Norrisman come to mind, but that doesn't imply Xkaliba doesn't have a vocal and lyrical style of himself... he definitely has!

The album opener and title track, "Baptized In The Ghetto", is a strong tune delivered over an uptempo riddim which carries a real nice old-skool dancehall vibe. It's followed by the outstanding, "Jah Rescue Me", which is underpinned by a riddim that producer/artist Donel 'Donny Dread' Connor also utilized for Midnite's "Earth" on the album "Aneed" and his own "Ms Sativa" from the "Set De Pace" album. Next drops the matching "Help The Poor", a truly wicked tune done in combination with Donny Dread and Midnite's Vaughn Benjamin. Other musical highlights are "Jealousy", "Tell Me Bout Selassie", the dancehall fueled "Praises Unto The Father", the wonderful Laurent "Tippy" Alfred produced "Enjoy Life" and "Babylon Lie".

Overall, Xkaliba delivers a satisfying debut album worth of hearing.