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J Dilla remembered 

Phife Dawg/Rasta Root pay homage to a fallen friend, and more local music news happenings

PAYING RESPECT: Phife Dawg starts a conversation with “#dearDilla.”

D’marti Photography

PAYING RESPECT: Phife Dawg starts a conversation with “#dearDilla.”

The five-foot assassin returns! Malik Isaac Taylor, better known as Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, has teamed up with DJ/producer Rasta Root to release "#dearDilla," a new single that pays homage to iconic hip-hop producer J Dilla.

Released Jan. 21 via Smokin' Needles, "#dearDilla" is the first glimpse at Phife's forthcoming album, MUTTYmorPHosis. The song serves as an open letter to Dilla, who died in 2006 of complications related to a blood disorder called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). "Before J Dilla passed, he and I were playing phone tag. I didn't even know he was that sick until it was too late," Phife says in a statement released about the single.

For several years, Phife has suffered though his own health problems with diabetes. "We didn't realize we were both going through a lot with our health and never got to sit and talk about it together. This song is that conversation. I've been wanting to record a dedication to J Dilla for the longest, it just seemed to finally be the right time to do it."

Rasta Root created the beats under Phife's lament for his fallen friend based on a drum loop from the Dilla-produced Slum Village song, "Hold Tight." Washington, D.C.'s V.Rich plays keys, and Atlanta's own Detoxxx plays bass.

A video for "#dearDilla," directed by Chicago-based Konee Rok, will premiere at the Midtown Art Cinema on Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Rok, Phife Dawg, Rasta Root, and more. The following day, they're screening the video in Detroit as part of the annual Dilla Day celebration.

Quad, the Midtown rave and EDM nightclub, is closed until further notice, according to its Facebook and co-owner Rick Day, who founded and runs the Spring4th venue complex. Day is selling the complex partially due to personal health issues, he says.

Original ATLiens Andre 3000 and Big Boi of OutKast will take the stage together for this year's CounterPoint festival in Kingston Downs, Ga. More than 75 acts will perform at this year's fest, taking place the weekend of April 25-27, on a 5,000-acre location roughly an hour northwest of Atlanta. There is no news yet regarding any other OutKast shows inside the Perimeter, so this is currently the duo's closest Atlanta stop on its announced tour of more than 40 music festivals around the world.

In other music news, singer, guitarist, and songwriter Curtis Harding of the group Night Sun has joined the ranks of Beck, Daft Punk, Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth, Body/Head), and more to be featured as part of Saint Laurent's Music Project. SLP has also produced a video for one of Harding's solo numbers called "Next Time."

Following news that the Head is recording a new single with producer Mitch Easter in April, the group will also record a second single with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens at Memphis' Ardent Studios.

Christopher White of Magicicada is behind a Southern experimental music series dubbed Mission Trips, which will rally artists throughout the South to submit music for semi-monthly CDs/zine projects limited to 50 copies per release. The schedule is limited to two curated artists each month, with cover illustrations by Emma Ball. February releases include Magicicada's Wrack with Ruin, and an album titled Barter by Currency (ft. members of Faun and a Pan Flute, Lily and the Tigers, and Hello Ocho). Ramble Tamble (ex-Guardian Alien), Skyy McClinton (Tantrum), Lindsay Smith, and more have new music set to be released as part of the series as well.

Additional reporting by Sonam Vashi.

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