Sadly, it has been announced that influential lyricist Trugoy the Dove, born David Jolicoeur, of the seminal 1980s and ‘90s hip hop group De La Soul passed away earlier this week. He was 54 years old. Trugoy’s melodious lyrical style melded seamlessly with that of his musical brothers, Posdnuos and Maseo, who achieved commercial success with their 1989 debut album “3 Feet High and Rising,” creating an interesting counterpart to the “harder” hip hop music being released at the time including N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” and MC Lyte’s “Lyte as a Rock.”
Trugoy’s laid back, intellectually creative, humorous, and lighthearted form of rhyming was a fertile hip-hop sound with which De La Soul found comradery and community within the 1990s hip hop collective Native Tongues, whose foundational members were A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers and De La. Queen Latifah, Monie Love, and Black Sheep would join as well. Throughout the first half of their career, De La released five albums within a seven-year span, 1989-1996, and released four albums between 2001 and 2016. Their output was inspiring to a plethora of current artists. “The De La tribe were the forefathers and founders of the way we see things,” expressed producer Pharrel Williams.
Pitchfork wrote of their later career, “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.”
But the ups and downs, and trajectory of his career was not the defining principle of Trugoy’s humanity. He had a huge hand in changing the sound and temperament of hip hop, offering an airy aesthetic alternative to the pain and aggression of gangsta rap; but it was, moreso, the aesthetic that served to lighten the hearts and cleanse the understandable worries and trauma of Black life. “The Dove, befitting his name, is gentle in manners and soft in speech,” shared Melody Maker. It is this gentility that makes a man mighty amongst others, as he is able to face the world in all its harshness with love and tenderness. We send our regards to the family, the hip hop community and our Black community at large.