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Remembering De La Soul's Trugoy the Dove has died at 54

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

A founding member of the influential hip-hop group De La Soul died on Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EYE KNOW")

DE LA SOUL: (Rapping) Greetings, girl, and welcome to my world of phrase. I'm right up to bat. It's a daisy age.

SUMMERS: David Jude Jolicoeur, aka Trugoy the Dove, was 54 years old. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this appreciation.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Positivity, playfulness and a sense of humor - that's De La Soul.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EYE KNOW")

DE LA SOUL: (Rapping) Now it's time to let this rhyme style get somewhat poured in the mold. Hold my hand, and we'll pick my plantation of daisies for a bouquet of soul.

BLAIR: Dave Jolicoeur was born in Brooklyn. When his family moved to Long Island, he met the other members of De La Soul - Vincent Mason and Kelvin Mercer. Record producer and DJ 9th Wonder first became a fan at age 14, when he saw a video of "Me Myself And I" on MTV. He says they didn't look like other rappers.

9TH WONDER: This is at a time with gold chains and Kangols and sweatsuits and, you know, the beginnings of what we know or some people like to call gangsta rap or whatever you want to call it. And De La Soul was a eclectic group to give a young Black kid at the time, which is me, something different to kind of get into not as far as only the sound but actually the look. They portrayed something more of a hippie or just something bohemian type of look.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ME MYSELF AND I")

DE LA SOUL: (Rapping) Mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me, mirror, what is wrong? Can it be my de la clothes, or is it just my de la song? What I do ain't make believe. People say I sit and try, but when it comes to being de la, it's just me, myself and I.

9TH WONDER: It was all right to be, quote-unquote, "weird." It's all right to just be normal, you know what I mean? You don't have to have a hard edge. You can talk about happy things. You can celebrate.

BLAIR: NPR Music senior producer Bobby Carter says younger generations don't always understand just how influential De La Soul was beginning in the late 1980s, partly because their music hasn't been widely available. He says Jolicoeur's death comes at a time when that's about to change.

BOBBY CARTER, BYLINE: It feels cruel because on March 3, they were going to release the rest of their catalog on the digital streaming platforms - just a few weeks away. It's the celebration, you know? We wanted to celebrate that with them when they announced it. It was - everyone was just so happy. And we, you know, were literally weeks away from that moment where they can finally capitalize off of the hard work and all of these classic songs and just open them up to a new generation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE MAGIC NUMBER")

DE LA SOUL: (Rapping) This here piece of the pie is not dessert but the course that we dine. And three out of every darn time, the effect is mmm (ph) when a daisy grows in your mind. Showing true position, this here piece is kissin' (ph) the part of the pie that's missing when that negative number fills up the casualty. Maybe you can subtract it. You can call it your lucky partner. Maybe you can call it your adjective. But odd as it may be, without my one and two, where would there be my three - Mase, Pos and me? And that's the magic number.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: What does it all mean?

BLAIR: All too often, we have to wait for tragedy to strike before we express how much someone means to us, writes Questlove on social media, paying tribute to David Jude Jolicoeur. He thanked De La Soul for their decades of zaniness, the fun memories of my teen years, the blatant honesty.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PLUG TUNIN' (LAST CHANCE TO COMPREHEND)")

DE LA SOUL: (Rapping) The first time around, you didn't quite understand our new style of speak.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Don't worry. We can fix that right now.

DE LA SOUL: (Rapping) So why don't you all just grab your bags?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Come onboard. Hoist the anchor, and we'll be off.

DE LA SOUL: (Rapping) Plug One. Plug One. Plug One. Plug One. Answering any other service, prerogative praised positively... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.