David “Trugoy the Dove” Jolicoeur, one-third of the iconic rap triumvirate De La Soul, has died, Rolling Stone has confirmed. The news was first reported by AllHipHop. He was 54. The cause of death has not been disclosed.
Trugoy, who had recently been going by the name Dave, and was also known as Plug Two, had been open about his bout with congestive heart failure in recent years. In De La Soul’s 208 “Royalty Capes” video, Trugoy candidly spoke about how his ailing health kept him from performing.
“I’m ready just to get back to the stage,” he said. “I miss that. I love traveling. I love being around my guys and I want that back.” De La Soul was part of the Grammys’ Hip-Hop tribute performance last week, but Trugoy wasn’t onstage with his group mates.
Renown as one of the most innovative acts in rap history, De La Soul made their mark particularly in the early Nineties when they represented a fun balance to the then-burgeoning gangsta rap scene.
Their early work is characterized by layers of disparate samples melded together, serving as a jazzy, energetic canvas for Trugoy, Posdnuos, and Maseo to unleash their quirky rhymes over canonical songs such as “Breakadawn,” “Stakes Is High,” and “Me, Myself, and I.” Of the latter track, Trugoy told Rolling Stone in 2009 that, “Originally, it was us trying to make sure we’re saying we’re not hippies. We were just being ourselves. People are now taking the song to be, ‘OK, it’s cool to be me and I don’t have to be hard’ — it wasn’t really about saying that, even though the video came off like that.”
The trio met in high school in the Long Island town of native Amityville. The three all rapped in local groups, but eventually came together to record a demo called “Plug Tunin,” which Mase played for his neighbor, Prince Paul of Stetsasonic. Paul, who Pos once called the “fourth member of De La Soul,” played the track for New York rap figures, and it sparked a buzz that led to them signing with Tommy Boy Records in 1989.
In 2014, De La Soul released “The People” with Chuck D. At the time, Trugoy told Rolling Stone that, “the lyrics are commentaries of our struggles and successes, our weaknesses and strengths…the experiences, trials and tribulations we have faced as human beings, a race and individuals,” and that “we hope [the] song will lend itself to something positive in these difficult times.”
Following news of Trugoy’s death, many in the music community paid homage. Erick Sermon called De La Soul “one of the best rap groups” in rap history in an Instagram tribute to Trugoy.
“This just shattered me. RIP Trugoy the Dove, Plug Two,” A-Trak wrote. “Hard to express how much De La means to me. The artistry, the creativity, the humor, the wisdom, and just the overall dopeness. Buhloone Mindstate shaped me. All the albums, but that one in particular. Fuck.”
Earlier this year, De La Soul announced that the first six albums in their catalog would be returning to streaming services on March 3. The group had been in a two-year battle with Tommy Boy Records in the late 2010s, but retrieved their masters in Aug. 2021. Next month, they’ll be re-releasing 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul Is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate, Stakes Is High, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump, and AOI: Bionix to streaming services.