Trugoy the Dove, founding member of De La Soul, dead at 54

Born David Jolicoeur, Trugoy the Dove helped De La Soul become one of the singular, most innovative rap groups in history.

Trugoy the Dove, co-founder of the legendary rap group De La Soul, has died. The group’s rep confirmed the Long Island MC’s death to theGrio. He was 54. 

A cause of death has not been disclosed at this time. Trugoy, born David Jolicoeur, was noticeably absent from the Grammy Awards’ hip-hop tribute performance last week that featured De La Soul groupmate Posdnuos.

Jolicoeur’s death comes less than a month before De La Soul’s music would premiere on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services. The group battled with their former record label, Tommy Boy Records, for years over legal and publishing issues that kept their music off streaming services. 

[L-R] Kelvin “Posdnuos” Mercer, DJ Vincent “Maseo” Mason, and David “Trugoy” Jolicoeur of De La Soul seen at The Millers Wrap Party at the Levi’s Haus, on Saturday, March, 22, 2014, in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Levis Strauss/AP Images)

Reservoir Records acquired Tommy Boy Record’s master recordings in 2021 and made a deal with De La Soul to add their first six albums to streaming services on March 3. 

Jolicoeur formed De La Soul with Kelvin “Posdnuos” Mercer and Vincent Mason, aka DJ Maseo, while still in high school in Long Island, N.Y., in the mid-1980s. The trio was known as hip-hop radicals and prided themselves on going against the grain of a hip-hop scene that was becoming more masculine and materialistic in the mainstream. 

The trio was part of the Native Tongues hip-hop collective that included acts like A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Black Sheep, and others that embraced not only conscientious themes of individuality and Afrocentrism but an imaginative method of sample-based music production. 

De La Soul has released eight albums, with their 1989 debut “3 Feet High and Rising” and its 1991 follow-up, “De La Soul is Dead,” considered hip-hop classics. 

Jolicoeur was a distinctive but subtly dynamic MC. His idiosyncratic flow had a lumbering swing, and he was able to deftly maneuver his vocals to match the mood of his lyrics. He could be affable, as he was on 1991’s “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays’”; could be biting and cynical, like on 1996’s “Stakes is High”; or wryly bemused, as on “Me, Myself and I.” 

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