It has long been believed that the Bronx is the birthplace of hip-hop. But after recently coming across a Youtube video of David “Pigmeat” Markham’s 1968 song “Here Come The Judge,” the XXLMag.com staff has been mulling over the idea that maybe, just maybe, the North Carolina-born entertainer/comedian/singer/dancer – and clearly rapper – was the actual originator of rap and that maybe history has been wrong all along. Let’s dig.
Markham, known for his artistic name Pigmeat Markham, kicked off his career in the 1920s as part of a traveling burlesque show and then as a member of Bessie Smith’s Traveling Revue. In the 1940s, he made his first film appearance, and in the 1950s, he began appearing on television, including on the Ed Sullivan show, and making routine performances at the Apollo Theater. His signature skit became known as “Heyeah Come Da Judge,” which poked fun at formal courtroom etiquette. In 1964, he released what is believed to be his first song, “Open The Door, Richard.”
It was his “Heyeah Come Da Judge” routine that, thanks to Sammy Davis Jr., who adopted it and performed it during an appearance on the show Laugh-In, that began getting Pigmeat mainstream recognition. The success of Davis’ appearance drew attention to Pigmeat, who at the time was mostly known in the “Chitlin’ Circuit,” aka the underground circuit, and allowed him the opportunity to perform it on Laugh-In as well.
Because the “Heyeah Come Da Judge” performance was usually accompanied by music and featured Pigmeat rapping some portions of his lines, he began to be known as a forerunner of hip-hop music. “Heyeah Come Da Judge” was later recorded as a song, titled “Here Come The Judge,” and peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 19 in 1968, according to wikipedia. Click here to listen to “Here Come The Judge.”
It is still debatable whether Pigmeat is the founder of hip-hop music or not. In fact, if you do a search on the internet, there are discussions currently going on about Pigmeat vs. Sugarhill Gang vs. The Last Poets vs.The Fatback Band. XXLMag.com would like to hear your thoughts. Check in on the comment section below and give your two cents on the topic.
Still, whatever the case may be, we salute Pigmeat with a XXL rating for his early contributions to hip-hop music. The judge has ruled!