David Jolicoeur, De La Soul founding member who played Trugoy the Dove, dies aged 54

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David Jolicoeur, one of the founding members of the iconic rap trio De La Soul, has died aged 54.

His death was confirmed by his reps on Sunday and was first reported by music outlet AllHipHop. No cause of death was disclosed.

The musician – who used to perform popularly under the stage name Trugoy the Dove, and later in his career as Dave – has been open about his health issues.

In 2018 he discussed his struggle with congestive heart failure in a music video for the song De La Soul Royalty Capes. “I’m ready to get back on stage,” he said. “I miss him.”

It was notably absent from last week’s Grammys, where the group previously won an award in 2005 for their Gorillaz collaboration Feel Good Inc.

At this year’s ceremony, De La Soul were honored in an all-star hip-hop tribute spanning five decades of the genre – although Posdnos (Kevin Mercer) was the only member of the group to perform, with a short snippet for Buddy’s win. .

Jolicoeur was born in 1968 in Brooklyn to Haitian-American parents and grew up in East Massapequa, a small community in Long Island.

He met Mercer and Vincent Mason – the other two members of De La Soul – in high school and the group formed in 1988.

A local producer, Prince Paul, came on an early show, and in 1989 the trio released their first album, 3 Feet High and Rising – their most commercially successful record, and considered a masterpiece.

As a debutant, they immediately differentiated themselves from their peers with their catchy wordplay and eclectic samples of jazz and funk, which would become their staple.

Those samples changed the rap landscape – but also landed the group in legal trouble.

One of the tracks on 3 Feet High and Rising, a skit called Transmitting Live from Mars, featured an unclean sample from the Turtles – who later sued them for $2.5m in 1991.

The case was settled out of court but their sample usage cast a long shadow over their career, preventing them from releasing their music on digital platforms.

Last month they announced that they had finally settled their sample clearances and that their back catalog would be available to stream from March 3rd.

There was also speculation about new music after a photo emerged last year of the trio in the studio with one-time champion Prince Paul.

“You have no idea how much pain this past year has been,” the producer wrote on Twitter. “Goodbye we got a chance to meet again … De La Soul forever.”

Tributes also flowed from other contemporaries. B Real – rapper with the hip-hop group Cypress Hill – called Jolicoeur “a story of hip hop music and culture… His music will allow him to live on in our hearts and minds.”

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