How Trugoy, De La Soul Impacted Hip-Hop Forever


FILE - De La Soul's Vincent Mason, left, and David Jude Jolicoeur perform at Rachael Ray's Feedback Party at Stubb's during the South by Southwest Music Festival on Saturday March 18, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Jolicoeur, known widely as Trugoy the Dove and one of the founding members of the Long Island hip hop trio De La Soul, has died at age 54. His representative Tony Ferguson confirmed the reports Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP, File)
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De La Soul’s Dave Jolicoeur (aka Trugoy aka The Dove aka Plug Two) died over the weekend at 54. As we always do for someone whose light on the world transcends their time on Earth, we celebrate their life and impact. Let’s dive into De La Soul and by extension, Trugoy’s impact on hip-hop culture. 


Black artists have been good about creating anthemic songs that instill pride in oneself since the music industry began developing into an industry. Over the course of several decades, we have “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” “Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and there are more, of course, but one of the earliest masterpieces promoting self-love for the hip-hop generation is “Me, Myself & I” by De La Soul. 

In Me Myself & I, from their 1989 debut album, 3ft High and Rising, Trugoy rapped: 

Proud, I’m proud of what I am/Poems I speak are plug two type/Please oh please let plug two be himself, not what you read or write.

Those lyrics still ring true, but that’s the gist of how De La Soul got down. They made their debut in 1989 during a time in hip-hop’s infancy when it was starting to get its footing. It was still developing but  it was starting to change. At that time, you had NWA emerging with an aggressive style that paved the way for the emergence of Gangsta Rap as a genre, but also other artists from the west coast. 

On the east coast, rappers were still swaggering and flashy, rocking chains and the latest name brand gear. De la Soul rocked handmade Africa Medallions and beaded necklaces. They were also from Ametyville, New York. At that time in hip-hop, the common sentiment was that the gritty streets of New York City were the center of the universe and often, rappers who were from the surrounding areas would just claim New York to be cool. However, this trio of nerdy but cool lyricists from the suburbs presented a new side of hip-hop that broadened how rappers could fit into the genre, sonically and aesthetically, and made more people feel included. 

“You don’t understand what De La Soul means to me. Their existence said to me, a black geek from Connecticut, that yes, hip-hop belongs to you too, and Trugoy was the balance, Mccartney to Pos’ Lennon, Keith to his Mick, this is a huge loss,” explains Cheo Hodari Coker, screenwriter and creator of Netflix’s Luke Cage, on Twitter.


De La Soul leveled up hip-hop. Even those of us who grew up in NYC but didn’t fit into any stereotypes of what people typically think kids from the hood are like could see ourselves in them. Their reach also went beyond just New York. Their jazz, blues and funk-infused music laid the blueprint for artists like Outkast, Rapsody, Black Eyed Peas, and Pharell.  

“I was nearly 16 when 3 Feet High and Rising came out. It was a total game changer. It changed my life, period,” said Pharrell in an interview with the Guardian from earlier this year

De La Soul was cool, but not too cool, they were lyricists who could hang with the best of them, eclectic, and foundational artists who made a lot of the popular music we listen to possible. Trugoy’s death leaves a crater in the space time continuum that will never be filled because he was one of a kind. Those of us who knew them as a trio all probably have stories about how we first got introduced to them and how much of their music still resonates, so getting used to this shift stings. But thankfully, De La Soul’s music will become fully available on streaming services, after years of legal drama, in early March. So, we will keep Trugoy’s memory alive. 

Dig In The (Metaphorical) Crates

Three De La Soul albums you should hear to get you started, when they become available are 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul is Dead, and The Grind Date.

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