Phife, who has released the single “#dearDilla” in honor of his late friend J Dilla, said that he and the rapper-producer were trying to get in touch with one another before Dilla passed away.

“He and I were playing phone tag,” Phife says in a press release. “I didn’t even know he was that sick until it was too late. We didn’t realize we were both going through a lot with our health and never got to sit and talk about it together.”

Phife has diabetes and Dilla died in 2006 from complications from Lupus, as per He was 32. Phife and J Dilla first worked together in the 1990s, when J Dilla produced for A Tribe Called Quest, of which Phife is a member.

Phife says that “#dearDilla” fulfills his desire to have that talk with Dilla. “I felt like this song is that conversation,” Dilla says. “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. It was very therapeutic for me to do this. There are a lot of people dealing with renal failure and I wanted to make this a conduit, a way for people to put their health issues out there.”

The video for “#dearDilla” is slated to premier February 6 at the Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta at 7:30 pm EST. It will also be shown at Dilla Day in Detroit February 7, the press release says.

“#dearDilla” is available for stream below.

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