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

The group changed music with its sample-happy, psychedelia-infused sound, introduced in 1989 with the album "3 Feet High and Rising."
Trugoy of De La Soul performs in Pemberton, Canada, on July 18, 2015.
Trugoy of De La Soul performs in Pemberton, Canada, on July 18, 2015.Andrew Chin / Getty Images file

De La Soul cofounder Dave Jolicoeur, better known as Trugoy the Dove, has died at the age of 54, a representative of the group confirmed to Variety. Details were not immediately available, but he has suffered from health issues for several years and in 2018 said Jolicoeur had been battling congestive heart failure.

Sadly, his death comes just weeks before the pioneering hip-hop group’s key catalog will finally become available on streaming services. Their 1989 album, “3 Feet High and Rising,” is universally recognized as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time but has been held back from streaming services due to longstanding legal battles over sample clearances and other matters. The group in many ways was a guinea pig for laws around sampling, which was a new field at the time of the album’s release, but quickly became one as the owners of the rights to songs sampled on the album sued the group and its label at the time, Tommy Boy Records.

The lawsuits unquestionably slowed down the group’s career, although they have continued to release albums ever since and were also featured on Gorillaz’s 2005 smash single, “Feel Good Inc.” The Tommy Boy catalog was acquired in 2021 by Reservoir Media, which announced last month that the group’s albums “3 Feet High and Rising,” “De La Soul Is Dead,” “Buhloone Mindstate,” “Stakes Is High” and “Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump” and “AOI: Bionix” will be available on streaming services for the first time legally on March 3.

The group’s influence was recognized at the Grammy Awards last weekend during the Questlove-helmed all-star hip-hop celebration with a brief performance of “Buddy,” a song from "3 Feet High,” although Posdnos (Kevin Mercer) was the only group member to perform.

Its song “The Magic Number,” also from “3 Feet High,” was featured in the 2021 blockbuster film “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” yet the catalog was still not available on streaming services at the time, frustrating fans and costing the group significant streaming royalties, but the situation did shed more light on their legal struggles.

Shortly before the announcement of its catalog being released on all streamers in January 2023, De La Soul reportedly finished recording its tenth studio album featuring production from Pete Rock and DJ Premier, with a promised 2023 release on Mass Appeal Records.