De La Soul co-founder Trugoy the Dove dies at 54

A group of men perform onstage
De La Soul’s Kelvin Mercer, David Jude Jolicoeur and Vincent Mason, from left, perform at the South by Southwest Music Festival in 2017. The group’s co-founder Jolicoeur, known widely as Trugoy the Dove, has died at age 54.
(Jack Plunkett / Invision/Associated Press)

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, living with a LifeVest machine affixed to his person. De La Soul was part of the hip-hop tribute at the Grammy Awards last week, but Trugoy was not onstage with his bandmates.

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Jolicoeur was born in Brooklyn but raised in the Amityville area of Long Island, where he met Vincent Mason (P.A. Pasemaster Mase) and Kelvin Mercer (Posdnuos) and the three decided to form a rap group, with each taking on distinctive names. Trugoy, Jolicoeur said, was backward for “yogurt.” More recently he’d been going by Dave.

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 lighthearted and positive counterpart to more charged rap offerings such as 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, critic Michael Azerrad called it the first “psychedelic hip-hop record.” Some even called them a hippie group, though the members didn’t quite like that.

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In 2010, “3 Feet High and Rising” was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for its historic significance.

The group followed with “De La Soul Is Dead,” in 1991, which was a bit darker and more divisive among critics, and “Stakes Is High” in 1996.