Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
De La Soul member ushered in dawn of alternative hip-hop
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. He was 54.
His representative Tony Ferguson confirmed the reports Sunday. No other information was immediately available.
In recent years, Jolicoeur had said he was battling congestive heart failure and wore a LifeVest defibrillator machine. 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 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 it was “heart wrenching news.”
Jolicoeur was born Sept. 21, 1968, in Brooklyn but raised in the Amityville area of Long Island, where he met Vincent Mason (aka Pasemaster Mase) and Kelvin Mercer (aka Posdnuos). The three decided to form a rap group, with each taking on distinctive names. Trugoy, Jolicoeur said, was backward for “yogurt.”
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 like N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” and Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions,” released just one year prior.
Sampling everyone from Johnny Cash and Steely Dan to Hall & Oates, De La Soul signaled the beginning of alternative hip-hop. In Rolling Stone magazine, critic Michael Azerrad called it the first “psychedelic hip-hop record.” Some even called them a hippie group, though the members didn’t like that.
In 2010, “3 Feet High and Rising” was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for its historic significance.
“It’s a hip-hop masterpiece for the era in which it was released,” Jolicoeur told Billboard earlier this year. “I think the element of that time of what was taking place in music, hip-hop, and our culture, I think it welcomed that and opened up minds and spirits to see and try new different things. ... I think the innocence that we had back then was brave, but we were in a time where innocence was so cool. Not sampling James Brown, but sampling Liberace; I think it was shocking (when) we came out (that) we sampled Liberace. I don’t know if it’d impact the same way (now).”
They followed with “De La Soul Is Dead,” in 1991, which was darker and more divisive with critics, and “Stakes Is High,” in 1996.
De La Soul released eight albums and in March were to make their streaming service debut, on Spotify, Apple Music and others after a 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 catalog was set to debut March 3.