Monday, January 18, 2010
RIP: Richie "s/ave" Douglas
On Thursday morning, December 31, 2009, Richard “s/ave” Douglas (36) went to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. He died in his sleep at his home in Houston, Texas from an epileptic seizure. While he had battled the condition for many years, this was an unexpected occurrence and a complete shock to his friends and family.
Born on March 27, 1973, s/ave was a devoted follower of Jesus and passionate fan of hip hop music. In the mid-90’s he was on staff at Grapetree Records and served as editor of Heaven’s Hip Hop Magazine – one of the first true attempts at Christian rap journalism and a lifeline for fans of the faith-based music in the pre-Internet age. He penned the “Real Criticisms” column and initiated an “Unsigned Acts” issue that spotlighted future Christian rap figures such as Nuwine, Future Shock, and Raphi Henley (aka Shames Worthy).
After moving to Houston, s/ave started the ONEMIND newsletter in 1995 out of his one-bedroom apartment and continued to cover the genre. As the one-sheet garnered more readers, it grew to into ONEMIND Magazine and featured the writings of James “Bad Luck” Parry, Excelsius, Kenneth "Bus" Falls, Jr. (owner of The Bus Shop), Jelani Greenidge, and Sketch the Journalist.
As the world wide web boomed and ushered in the Information Age, s/ave adapted his magazine to an online forum. OM95.com continued to bring album reviews, news, and analysis to the Christian hip hop culture. Its vibrant message board continued to build community until the launch of DaSouth.com.
That site was created to be unified banner site for gospel rappers in the Gulf Coast area. The concept was that artists would forgo forging their own web identities and adopt the DaSouth.com name. Not only that, s/ave was strategic in the launch of The Bus Shop - the first and longest running Christian Hip Hop store on the web - along with Kenneth "Bus" Falls, Jr. He gave the store its name and also created its first website.
After several years, the ties that bound began to fray as artists joined but also kept an individual URL on the side. It became harder to sell and get buy-in for the idea and eventually the site withered away to a simple, yet lively, message board. s/ave also found his passions steadily shifting away from the Christian rap community to a group nearly as underground.
“Deaf culture,” s/ave explained. “I left the world of hip hop to serve the people who didn’t hear it.”
s/ave enrolled in college level American Sign Language classes and began to get involved in deaf church ministries and stage plays. This left little time to maintain DaSouth.com.
However, he knew of a local Christian rapper and business owner who was an emerging leader in both his city and the movement as a whole. In 2008 s/ave handed over ownership of DaSouth.com to Bobby “Tre9” Herring.
Since then, s/ave served as an educator for deaf and special needs children in the Cy-Fair Independent School District.
He is survived by his wife Theresa “Tee” Douglas.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Theresa Douglas c/o the Richie Douglas Memorial Fund through Wells Fargo Bank, acct.#7963198499, benefiting the Texas School for the Deaf.