Jamaican Mento Music
Mento music emerged as a distinct style of Jamaican music in the early part of the 1900s, although its roots run much deeper. Mento, much like other Caribbean folk music, is a blending of African rhythms, Latin rhythms, and Anglo folksongs. Mento found its greatest popularity in the 1940s and 1950s in Jamaica, before Rocksteady and Reggae became the predominant musical styles. Mento music is often referred to as Jamaican Calypso, although the rhythms and song patterns are markedly different from those of Trinidadian Calypso. While many mento songs are about traditional “folksong” subjects, from political commentary to simple day-to-day life, a disproportionately large number of the songs are “bawdy songs”, often featuring poorly-veiled (and delightfully funny) sexual double-entendres. Popular mento songs include references to “Big Bamboo”, “Juicy Tomatoes”, “Sweet Watermelon”, and so on.