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NYADIFF 2021 Review: Pimento & Hot Pepper-The Mento Story

Review Time. I was online for the most of the festival but was able to see films on the streaming site. One of the documentaries that I was able to watch was titled "Pimento and Hot Pepper" which documents the musical genre called Pimento which predates Soca in Trinidad and Tobago and was the precursor to Ska and Reggae in Jamaica. The film documents the early days of commercial music in Jamaica. The combination of folk and work stories weaved into musical tunes was the most popular music in the island for many decades until the 1950s when early Mento singers like Toots Hibbert and Harry Belafonte switch genres and became more popular with audiences with the change. As the film starts the music is described as working people's music as they walk between jobs or the market. Time goes on and throughout the island every musician learns to play mento so they can get notoriety and money from tourists. The early Mento singers do not get recorded until the late 1950s which by then Ska and Rocksteady Reggae starts taking over. The focus of this documentary is to show the beginning of popular music in Jamaica and how a hybrid of European and African influences created a genre that started Jamaica's ascension into the popular culture. The interviews with the musicologists and musicians to describing how famous tourists and tourism keeps mento music thriving all these years. Director Rick Elgood definitely has keep details intact for let us know about where most of Jamaica's popular musicians starting points.


If you have a thirst for music knowledge especially from the Caribbean then this documentary is good for starting points and you can add from there. For history buffs this documentary is great for acknowledging past greats and looking at the foundation for Jamaican pop music culture. For everyone else this documentary is great to learn about and from the past