De La Soul co-founder Trugoy the Dove dies aged 54

Tributes have flooded in from around the world for the New York-born rapper

(FILE) - David 'Trugoy the Dove' Jolicoeur of the US hip-hop band De La Soul performs during the Sonar Reykjavik 2017 festival in Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland, late 18 February 2017 (reissued 13 February 2023).  Jolicoeur, a founding member of the hip-hop group De La Soul, died at the age of 54.   EPA / BIRGIR THOR HARDARSON ICELAND OUT
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David Jude Jolicoeur, known widely as Trugoy the Dove and one of the founding members of the Long Island hip-hop trio De La Soul, has died aged 54.

His representative Tony Ferguson confirmed the reports on Sunday. No other information was immediately available.

In recent years, Jolicoeur had said he was battling congestive heart failure, living with a LifeVest machine affixed to his person. De La Soul was part of the hip-hop tribute at the Grammy Awards last week, but Trugoy was not onstage with his fellow bandmates.

Tributes poured in on social media shortly after the news broke on Sunday.

“Dave! It was a honor to share so many stages with you,” wrote rapper Big Daddy Kane on Instagram.

Rapper Erick Sermon posted on Instagram that “This one hurts. From Long Island from one of the best rap groups in Hiphop # Delasoul #plug2 Dave has passed away you will be missed… RIP.”

Young Guru added, “Rest in peace my brother. You were loved. @plugwondelasoul I love you brother we are here for you. Smiles I love you bro. This is crazy” and DJ Semtex wrote that it was “heart wrenching news.”

Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker wrote on Twitter: "You don’t understand what De La Soul means to me. Their existence said to me, a black geek from Connecticut that yes, hip-hop belongs to you too, and Trugoy was the balance, McCartney to Pos Lennon, Keith to his Mick. This is a huge loss.”

Jolicoeur was born in Brooklyn but raised in the Amityville area of Long Island, where he met Vincent Mason (Pasemaster Mase) and Kelvin Mercer (Posdnuos) and the three decided to form a rap group, with each taking on distinctive names. Trugoy, Jolicoeur said, was backwards for “yogurt.” More recently, he’d been going by Dave.

De La Soul’s debut studio album 3 Feet High and Rising, produced by Prince Paul, was released in 1989 by Tommy Boy Records and praised for being a more light-hearted and positive counterpart to more charged rap offerings such as NWA’s Straight Outta Compton and Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, released only one year prior.

Sampling everyone from Johnny Cash and Steely Dan to Hall & Oates, De La Soul signalled the beginning of alternative hip-hop. In Rolling Stone, critic Michael Azerrad called it the first “psychedelic hip-hop record.” Some even called them a hippie group, though the members didn’t quite like that.

They followed up with De La Soul Is Dead, in 1991, which was a bit darker and more divisive with critics, and Stakes is High, in 1996.

De La Soul released eight albums and were going to make their streaming service debut next month, on Spotify, Apple Music and others, after a long battle with Tommy Boy Records about legal and publishing matters. The 2021 acquisition of Tommy Boy Records by Reservoir, with masters from the likes of De La Soul, Queen Latifah and Naughty By Nature, helped move things along and the full catalogue was set to debut on March 3.

Over the years, the group was nominated for six Grammy Awards, winning one for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration for the Gorillaz song Feel Good Inc.

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Updated: February 13, 2023, 5:22 AM