De La Soul’s Trugoy the Dove Dies at 54

Trugoy the Dove dies
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Trugoy the Dove dies
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Photo Credit: Shawn Anderson / CC by 2.0

Trugoy the Dove, part of the influential hip-hop trio De La Soul, has died. The group emerged from Long Island in the late ’80s.

A representative for the trio confirmed on February 12 that De La Soul’s Trugoy the Dove had passed away at age 54. A cause of death has yet to be revealed, but the rapper had openly discussed his diagnosis of congestive heart failure in recent years.

Trugoy, born David Jude Jolicoeur, formed De La Soul in 1988 with his high school friends, rappers Posdnuos and Maseo. The three rappers grew up in the Amityville area in Long Island, New York, and with the help of local producer Prince Paul, De La Soul released their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, in 1989. That album would become the group’s most commercially successful, influencing artists throughout the rap and pop world.

Many artists have cited De La Soul’s significant influence on their music, including Tyler the Creator, Mos Def, Pharrell, Jurassic 5, and Damon Albarn. Albarn enlisted Trugoy for the well-known Gorillaz hit, “Feel Good Inc.” An influential presence even in the ’90s, De La Soul was part of the Native Tongues Posse, a collective of East Coast hip-hop artists that included A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, and Queen Latifah. 

De La Soul’s music was interwoven with jazz and funk samples, a technique that contributed to their signature sound and popularity. It also tied the group in legal battles for years, with some fans speculating that sample clearance issues were chiefly responsible for the group’s absence on streaming platforms. However, the group recently announced their catalog would be available on streaming services beginning on March 3.

“Our music is raw, and it’s funky, but at the same time, it’s deeply soulful because this is the Daisy Age, and this is the sound from within,” Trugoy said in 2014. “Rap doesn’t have to come off with hard basslines and heavy kicks and snares. People sometimes want to listen to soft music — even the hardcore crowd.”

“We lost another legend of hip hop music and culture in my brother Trugoy aka Dave of De La Soul,” tweeted rapper B-Real. “His music will allow him to live in our hearts and minds as he is gone. But not only was he a great musician, but he was a great human being. He meant a lot to us.”

Countless other artists and musicians have taken to social media to honor Trugoy the Dove, including PharrellChuck D, MaxwellA-TrakJPEGMAFIAThey Hate ChangeOpen Mike Eaglethe AvalanchesJenny LewisKaytranada, and Tim Burgess.