Trugoy the Dove, co-founding member of the iconic hip-hop group De La Soul, has died at the age of 54.
A cause of death has not yet been revealed. However, Trugoy was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in recent years. Notably, he did not join fellow De La Soul members Posdnuos and Maseo at last weekend’s Grammys tribute to hip-hop.
Hailing from Long Island, De La Soul is considered one of the most innovative and influential groups in hip-hop history. Trugoy, whose real name was David Jude Jolicoeu, formed the group alongside high school friends Vincent Mason (aka Maseo) and Kelvin Mercer (aka Posdnuos). The trio went on to lead a loose collective of like-minded New York hip-hop groups including A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers.
De La Soul’s debut album, 1989’s 3 Feet High and Rising, was unlike anything that had been heard in hip-hop before, with its eclectic mix of samples, skits, and socially conscious lyrics. Producer Prince Pau’s use of samples was particularly innovative, as he incorporated elements from genres such as jazz, soul, and psychedelic rock. This approach to production helped to expand the musical boundaries of hip-hop and set the stage for future musical experimentation within the genre.
Beyond their musical innovations, De La Soul are also known for their positive and socially conscious lyrics. The group’s songs often touched on topics such as poverty, drug addiction, and inner-city life. These themes were often presented in a playful and lighthearted way, making their message more accessible and relatable to a wider audience.
Throughout the 1990s, De La Soul remained at the forefront of hip-hop, releasing several critically acclaimed albums. Their second album, 1991’s De La Soul Is Dead, was presented as a children’s read-along-storybook. Their follow-up album, 1993’s Buhloone Mindstate, featured collaborations with jazz musicians Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, and Pee Wee Ellis.
De La Soul’s fourth album, Stakes Is High, was released in 1996 and marked another turning point in the group’s career. The album was more politically charged than their previous work, addressing issues such as police brutality, gentrification, and hip-hop’s commercialization.
In the 2000s, De La Soul continued to release music, although their output was somewhat more sporadic. Their fifth album, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump, was released in 2000 and marked a return to the group’s playful and eclectic roots. Their other albums included 2001’s AOI: Bionix and 2004’s The Grind Date (which included collaborations with J Dilla, Madlib, and MF DOOM).
In 2006, De La Soul appeared on Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc,” which went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. As of now, it remains the only Grammy victory of De La Soul’s career.
In 2012, Posdnuos and Trugoy, as Plug 1 & Plug 2, released the concept album Plug 1 & Plug 2 Present… First Serve. In 2016, Posdnuos and Trugoy reconvened with Maseo for their ninth (and most recent) De La Soul album, And the Anonymous Nobody…
For more than half a decade, De La Soul was embroiled in a dispute over the ownership of their back catalog. In 2021, the trio finally regained control of their master recordings, and they had recently announced plans to bring their first six studio albums to streaming services on March 3rd.