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13 February 2023

De La Soul Rapper Trugoy The Dove Dies at 54

De La Soul rapper Turgoy
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De La Soul rapper Trugoy the Dove has died at 54 years old. A representative for the trio confirmed the news to Pitchfork today (February 12). A cause of death has not yet been revealed.

Born David Jude Jolicoeur, Trugoy – named for his love of yoghurt (spelt backwards) – formed De La Soul in 1988 alongside his high school friends, rappers Posdnuos and Maseo. The three artists grew up in the Amityville area of Long Island, New York. After catching the attention of local producer Prince Paul, De La Soul issued their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising in 1989.

That record would go on to be a defining album in hip-hop and De La Soul’s most commercially successful as a group. De La Soul’s poetic and psychedelic vision provided an alternative to violent and misogynist hip-hop.

De La Soul’s music was also incredibly influential. Their sound, woven from samples from disparate sources, was unique — a jumble of soul, funk, jazz, psych and pop — but it also meant that their sample-heavy second album, De La Soul Is Dead, was held up as samples were cleared. When the Turtles, whose You Showed Me was used without permission for De La’s Transmitting Live from Mars – usued the band and its Tommy Boy label, and won. Not only did this decision impact De La Soul’s winning trajectory, but that of hip-hop as well: From that moment on, copyright owners would fight fiercely to be compensated for the use of their music.

Some have speculated that sample clearance issues were partly responsible for De La Soul’s absence on streaming services, however it was recently announced that their music will be available on 3 March. At that point, six of De La Soul’s albums, largely considered to be their classics, will be available to stream: 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul Is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate, Stakes Is High, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump, and AOI: Bionix. “It’s been 20 plus years overdue, but finally, we are here,” Maseo said in press materials along with the announcement.

Aside from their own classic albums, De La Soul were featured on Gorillaz’s 2005 smash single Feel Good Inc and continued to work with Damon Albarn’s cartoon creations from that point on.

After learning of his death, countless musicians have paid tribute to Trugoy the Dove on social media. Pharrell, Chuck D, Maxwell, A-Trak, JPEGMAFIA, They Hate Change, and Open Mike Eagle have all posted tributes, as have Jenny Lewis, Kaytranada, Geoff Barrow, Tim Burgess, and the Avalanches. “We lost another legend of hip hop music and culture in my brother Trugoy aka Dave of De La Soul,” tweeted 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 ??”

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