Philly’s own BATCAVE Studio has been a long-lasting recording studio where many artists, including rappers Meek Mill and Gillie Da Kid, have been frequent in recording their music.
Partners “Rug” — short for Ruggedness — of RuggedNess Madd Drama, “Biz” Porter and Don Groove continuously work to provide an outlet for artists to express themselves and to be a strong force in the hip-hop community in the city.
With the continuous effort to provide a space for hip-hop, the partners of BATCAVE now look to emphasize their work in giving back to the community.
Biz was born in Atlantic City and moved to Philadelphia at the age of eight. He got his start performing as early as three years old, when he would sing and dance on the boardwalk and put a hat out to make money.
“I wasn’t from a privileged family,” he said. “My mom is deaf so I would make money because they wouldn’t allow my mom to work at that time.”
When Biz came to Philadelphia he didn’t hesitate to start his music career.
“I started in 1979 and our group was called The Plush Brothers,” he said, “I was signed to Motown around 1987 and if you check the dates, it was the transition of rap. When I was in the 11th grade, I already had a record deal with Motown and already got accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts.”
Similarly to Biz, Rug and Don also indulged in music at a young age. Rug, producer and founder of BATCAVE, has an extensive history in hip-hop.
He reflects on his hip-hop involvement including working as a DJ, producing and his relationships with hip-hop moguls including RUN DMC.
“I had family in New York; I used to go to Red Hook projects in New York in the summer time,” he said. “All those people who were pivotal in hip-hop I could have seen, but I didn’t know who I was seeing at that time. I had an early involvement, seeing what hip-hop was like.”
Don, one of the engineers at BATCAVE, has always turned to music as an instrumental part of his life.
“I was a real live b-boy; I did graffiti but I had to hide my violin,” he said. “I’d go in the house and play my violin.”
From learning to play the violin, to playing the bass and working with various artists that record at BATCAVE, Don feels there should be a stronger emphasis of music in schools.
“I want to do something about the music in school, I actual want to instill a dream in kids,” he said. “I want kids to instill a dream and it’s kind of the reason why Meek’s thing was ‘Dreamchasers.’”
The three worked together on a recording studio titled Platinum Bound until they shut it down, did work for the TV show “Eve” — starring rapper, songwriter and actress Eve — before coming together in Philadelphia to form BATCAVE.
While they are proud of their accomplishments in the hip-hop game, they are concerned that most times the studio, and particularly Philadelphia as a whole, does not always receive the credit it deserves.
“We [Philadelphia] don’t get credit for some of the stuff we’ve done or some of the stuff that people capitalize on from us,” Don said.
More particularly, Biz feels BATCAVE often gets left out of recognition.
“I think that the industry itself as a whole doesn’t respect the BATCAVE,” he said. “It’s because the artists that come out here don’t make it clear the role we play — in terms of helping them get where they get.”
Despite a few feelings of lack of recognition, the BATCAVE partners each have goals to be more active in the community.
Rug plans to host a big community event aimed at bringing various neighborhoods together. Don would like to resume his work teaching music at the Youth Study Center and Biz plans to focus on the education of music and implement an after-school music school for kids.
“You don’t teach them young but then you expect them to be good when they get older,” Biz said. “I want to teach young kids that it’s important to learn music — it’s beneficial.”