The trio expanded the stylistic vocabulary of hip-hop in the 1980s and ’90s, but its early experiments with sampling led to legal troubles, and the group’s longtime exclusion from streaming.
Trugoy the Dove, one-third of the influential hip-hop group De La Soul, has died. A representative for the trio confirmed the news to Pitchfork today (February 12). Trugoy was 54 years old. A cause of death has not yet been revealed, but the rapper had discussed his diagnosis with congestive heart failure in recent years.
Born David Jude Jolicoeur, Trugoy the Dove 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
De La Soul’s debut was the group’s most commercially successful release, and it would go on to make waves within the rap and pop communities. Countless artists have cited the trio as an important influence, including Mos Def, Jurassic 5, Tyler, the Creator, Pharrell Williams, and Damon Albarn, who enlisted Trugoy for the early Gorillaz hit “Feel Good Inc.”
The trio’s influence continues to this day, but the band was also influential within its own time. It was an especially fruitful period in East Coast hip-hop, one that spawned the Native Tongues Posse, a collective of artists that included De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, Queen Latifah, and others.
De La Soul’s music was intricately woven from jazz and funk samples—a technique that contributed to their signature sound, but also what would bind up their songs in legal battles for years. Some have speculated that sample clearance issues were partly responsible for the group’s absence on streaming services, but it was recently announced that the trio’s catalog will be available to stream on March 3.