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Atlanta music news: Phife Dawg in sync with ONE MusicFest 

Atlanta fest tightens focus on progressive vibes and stuff

FIVE FOOT ASSASSIN: Phife Dawg to host lineup of acts that continue to follow A Tribe Called Quest's lead.

COURTESY OF DJ RASTA ROOT

FIVE FOOT ASSASSIN: Phife Dawg to host lineup of acts that continue to follow A Tribe Called Quest's lead.

As the second coming of the annual ONE MusicFest draws near (Sat., Aug. 27), the day-long progressive soul and hip-hop concert has tightened its focus. Reviving the tag line "unity through music," which served as the mission statement for last year's premiere, the fest returns with a bolstered lineup that features more than a dozen DJs and musical acts including headliner Chrisette Michele, Left Coast hip-hop legends the Pharcyde, new-school purveyors the Cool Kids, and soul staples the Foreign Exchange, Anthony David, and Tortured Soul.

This year the festival's perceived theme of forward-leaning, alternative acts is personified by the show's host, Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest. In the early '90s, ATCQ set the benchmark for a hip-hop renaissance by pushing the genre into cool, sophisticated terrain, so his presence this year feels like both a strategic and symbolic move on the part of festival founder J. Carter. And Phife was happy to accommodate.

"Any excuse to come hang out in Atlanta is a good one," says Phife (born Malik Isaac Taylor). The former Atlanta resident has been living in Oakland, Calif., with his wife since 2005. Over the last year he's been working diligently on a couple of solo releases, an EP titled Songs in the Key of Phife: 8 is Enough and a full-length to follow soon after called Songs in the Key of Phife Volume 1: Cheryl's Big Son. No release date is set but he says they'll materialize this year.

Michael Rapaport's recent documentary film Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest chronicles the difficulties Phife has often faced when going out on the road, due to his battle with diabetes. But when asked, he jumped at the chance to be a part of the Atlanta show.

"Sometimes I'll be drawn into these meetings of the minds and people will have conversations about where music has gone, and the kinds of acts that picked up where Tribe left off, which was part of what caught my interest about ONE MusicFest," Phife says. "But I'm also pretty tight with a couple of the DJs who are involved this year — DJ Kemit and Rasta Root — and whenever Rasta Root asks me to do something, I usually can't say no. So for me, hosting was a no-brainer."

The One MusicFest takes place at Park Tavern on the northeastern edge of Piedmont Park this year on a single indoor/outdoor stage. As with last year's fest, various other attractions have been added, continuing the theme of what Carter described last year as "a giant-ass Chuck E. Cheese for adults — with music." There will be live art installations, mixologist lessons, X-Box gaming, food and more. But Carter reiterates that the focus remains on the music. "We definitely want to highlight good music that people don't get to see together all that often," Carter says. "The city has the talent and the venues, and if you don't see the music that you want, then you have to get up and do it yourself. We're taking what's out there and giving it to the people."

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