- The article is about the Jamaican musical style.
For the D.C. comics character, see Mento . For the candy, see Mentos.
is a style of Jamaican folk
that predates and has greatly influenced ska
typically features acoustic instruments, such as acoustic guitar
, hand drums
, and the
— a large mbira
in the shape of a box that can be sat on while
played. The rhumba box carries the bass
part of the music.
often confused with calypso, a musical
form from Trinidad and
Although the two share many similarities,
they are separate and distinct musical forms. In part, the
differences stem from the differing colonial histories of the two
Indian Islands, as Jamaican music lacks the Spanish influences
found in other Caribbean musical styles.
Mento draws on musical traditions brought over by African
slaves. The influence of European music is
also strong, as slaves who could play musical instruments were
often required to play music for their masters. They subsequently
incorporated some elements of these traditions into their own
. The lyrics of mento songs
often deal with aspects of everyday life in a light-hearted and
humorous way. Many comment on poverty, poor housing and other
social issues. Thinly-veiled sexual references and innuendo
are also common themes. Although the
treatment of such subjects in mento is comparatively innocent,
their appearance has sometimes been seen as a precursor of the
found in modern dancehall
The golden age of mento was the 1950s, as records pressed by
, Ivan Chin
, Ken Khouri
and others brought the music to a new audience. In the 1960s it was
overshadowed by ska
and reggae, but it is still
played in Jamaica, especially in areas frequented by tourists.
repopularized by the Jolly Boys in the
late 1980s and early 1990s with the release of four recordings on
First Warning Records/Rykodisc and a tour that included the United States.
- Floyd Jr, Samuel A (1999). "Black Music in the Circum-Caribbean".
American Music, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring, 1999), pp.
- Neely, Daniel (2001). "Long Time Gal! Mento is Back!". The
Beat, December 2001, vol. 20, no. 6: 38-42. Available in
pdf format at New York University
- Neely, Daniel (2007). "One of mento's great voices silenced".
"Jamaica Observer, March 18, 2007,
- 1984 - Caribbean Crucible. From Repercussions: A
Celebration of African-American Music series, program 6.
Directed by Dennis Marks and Geoffrey Haydon.
- Jamaica - In Calypso: A World Music, a site
created by Historical Museum of Southern Florida about calypso and
Mento Music - site created by Michael Garnice (comprehensive
information on the history and the musicians who made the
- Ivan Chin - Mento music's pages on mento pioneer Ivan