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Dave Jolicoeur, De La Soul’s Trugoy the Dove, Dies at 54

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De La Soul‘s Trugoy the Dove, who also went by the name Dave, has died, a representative for the legendary New York hip-hop trio confirms to Billboard.

The death of Trugoy the Dove, born David Jolicoeur, comes just weeks before De La Soul’s classic catalog is set to finally arrive on streaming and digital platforms on March 3, following a 2021 deal with Reservoir Media.

Dave’s cause of death, first reported on Sunday (Feb. 12), had not been made known as of press time.

“This one hurts,” Erick Sermon, former EPMD member and renowned producer, wrote on Instagram on Sunday. “From Long Island from one of the best rap groups in Hiphop #Delasoul #plug2 Dave has passed away you will be missed… RIP.”

With a career spanning more than three decades, De La Soul is known as one of hip-hop’s most innovative and eclectic groups. Formed in 1988 in the Amityville area of Long Island, Dave (Trugoy the Dove) and members Posdnuos and Maseo met in high school and went on to impress local producer Prince Paul, who circulated their demo tape. They landed a deal with Tommy Boy Records.

Their 1989 debut — the album 3 Feet High and Rising, peaking at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 24 on the Billboard 200 — featured the breakthrough single “Me Myself and I,” which topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at No. 1, reached No. 34 on the Hot 100 and was nominated for a best rap performance Grammy. 3 Feet High and Rising is often cited as the start of what’s referred to as “alternative hip-hop.”

But music industry red tape and sample clearances prevented their back catalog from becoming available on digital marketplaces and streaming services, until the rights to Tommy Boy were acquired by the music rights firm Reservoir Media in 2021.

De La Soul secured a deal to retrieve their masters, allowing their first six albums to become available via their label AOI, distributed by Chrysalis Records. The trio’s first six albums are scheduled to arrive in full on streaming on March 3. 

In an interview with Billboard published in January, Dave reflected on De La Soul’s debut. “I think 3 Feet High and Rising, as much as people might claim it to be a hip-hop masterpiece – it’s a hip-hop masterpiece for the era in which it was released,” he said.

“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,” Dave noted in the conversation with Billboard. “I think releasing 3 Feet High and Rising right now, even to maybe the age group that was listening back then, I think hip-hop as a whole just wouldn’t get it. I think hip-hop would possibly look at it as obnoxious, soft, that kind of thing. But I think it’s also because where we’re at in hip-hop right now, hip-hop is about what you got on, who you’re impressing, what can you do, how much you got, how much you’re spending, and how much is in that bag that you got around you? I don’t think the impact of what 3 Feet High and Rising and what it meant back then would mean anything now. I feel like there are people who will get it, but I don’t know if there’s that acclaim to it in this day and age if it was something we’d never heard before.”

Dave added, “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].”

“But the magic happens with us three on the phone, in the same conversation, in the room together, in the studio, and hanging out on the tour bus,” said Dave. “That’s where the magic happens, so that’s why we’re still here. We don’t want to interrupt that magic.”

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