De La Soul’s Trugoy Gone at 54

The rap legend’s death comes weeks before the group’s catalog gets reissued

Trugoy the Dove (Image: De La Soul)

David Jude Jolicoeur, co-founder of legendary Long Island rap trio De La Soul also known as Trugoy the Dove, has died. He was only 54.

His passing was confirmed on Sunday by the group’s longtime publicist, Tony Ferguson, though he did not specify how Dave died. However, the rapper has been open about his troubles with congestive heart failure, particularly in the opening moments of 2016’s “Royalty Capes,” where he admits to wearing a life vest in case of a cardiac emergency. 

Across eight albums released between 1989 and 2016, De La Soul provided hip-hop fans with an alternative to the violence and misogyny that routinely plagued most rap music during the time. In fact, all six of the group’s Tommy Boy LPs will finally be made available on all streaming services on March 3rd, having won a hard fought battle for the rights over them with their former label.

Dave, along with Kelvin “Posdnuos” Mercer and Vincent “Maseo” Mason, were three kids from Amityville, NY, on Long Island who eschewed the gunplay and money talk in favor of imaginative, vocabulary-defying verses that made you think, laugh and even cry a little when you consider a track like “Trying People” off their 2001 LP AOI: Bionix. 


VIDEO: Stakes Is High sample breakdown

And Jolicoeur was undoubtedly the group’s heart and soul, a gentle giant of a man who was fearless with his words and often delivered some of De La’s most memorable lines. Namely his verse on the indelible tite track to their 1996 album Stakes Is High:


“I’m sick of bitches shakin’ asses

I’m sick of talkin’ about blunts

Sick of Versace glasses

Sick of slang

Sick of 1/2 ass awards shows

Sick of name brand clothes

Sick of R&B bitches over bullshit Tracks, cocaine and crack

Which brings sickness to Blacks…”


I was very fortunate enough to have seen De La in concert a few times in my life, but perhaps the most memorable was, in fact, on that Stakes Is High tour. It was the night my grandpa died, and during a two-hour show at Vassar College, the Plugs helped ease the shock and pain of losing a man who was pretty much my everything with their fantastic set. I got to see them perform twice onstage at The Apollo as part of the Gorillaz Demon Days shows in 2005 as well, which serves as a close second.

Their second album, 1991’s De La Soul Is Dead, has been a crucial part of the soundtrack to my life since it came out during my junior year of high school. Even when I was on the downstroke with hip-hop during my whole Belly / Lemonheads / Breeders phase, De La Soul Is Dead was always in my tape deck, as was 1993’s Buhloone Mind State, an album that even furthered the trio’s creativity on wax.

3 Feet High and Rising ad (Image: Reddit)

Of the numerous tributes and condolences that have come down from friends, fans and colleagues in the wake of this terrible news, it was Questlove, as he always does, who put the loss of Trugoy in the best perspective.

“I sincerely want to thank David Jolicoeur, Kelvin Mercer & Vincent Mason (Paul Houston too) for everything,” he writes on Facebook. “All too often we have to wait for tragedy to strike before we express how much someone means to us.

“As eager as I am to educate & teach a lesson. I decided to erase it & not mask the sadness with brainiac smarts about why #DeLaSoul was one of the most amazing beautiful products of this culture of hip hop.

“I just wanna thank them for the decades zaniness, the fun memories of my teen years, the blueprint laid out that eventually brought Tariq & i together. The freedom of expression, those crazy skits, the fresh new ideas, the blatant honesty (especially in a time period in which it was frowned upon——listen to that ‘Stakes’ verse….what a legacy to leave behind!!) psssssh that #Senyah flip on ‘Pony Ride’ you told me about, i LOST MY MIND!!!!!!!!! when I heard that) —-so many creative gems.


VIDEO: De La Soul “Eye Know”

“Once again I remind you people to PLEASE do not let his passing be in vain. It’s devastating that he will not be able to share in the glory & witness the magic of his entire cannon (under HIS ownership——-a RARE move in hip hop that few can claim) come March 3rd when those 6 albums come out. If you own their music, purchase it again for someone not enlightened. All too often there is a belief that we can only embrace something in the age range time bracket. Which is bullshucks. If that were real? I woulda never listened to A Love Supreme, Live At The Apollo Vol 1,2 & 3, or Stand!”

This is no doubt a tough one to digest here. Dave Jolicoeur was undoubtedly the rapper with whom I most associated. I felt like he was speaking to me when I was listening to his verses, and I know I’m not the only one. Like Adam Yauch, Dove carried a wisdom about him that came through in all aspects of his being. He was also one funny cat as well, as anyone who ever watched their videos can tell you. Plus, as a native Long Islander, De La Soul is as much of a point of pride as Billy Joel.

God Bless your life, David Jude Jolicoeur–aka Trugoy, aka Dove, aka Dave, aka Plug Two. You were a man of many names but a singular talent that will never be forgotten.


VIDEO: De La Soul “Royalty Capes”



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Ron Hart

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Roll Globe. Reach him on Twitter @MisterTribune.

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