A Tribe Called Quest star Phife Dawg has paid tribute to his producer pal J. Dilla in a new song, seven years after his tragic death.

The rapper reveals he talks to the spirit of his late friend all the time as he struggles to come to terms with his loss, and the chats have inspired his upcoming solo single, Dear Dilla.

Discussing the track, Phife Dawg tells Okayplayer.com, "It's just me talking to my homeboy up in the heavens letting him know we miss him, of course, and what's going on down here musically and with life in general. I know I can speak for a lot of different artists that he worked with and a lot of fans that he touched that we miss him."

The new material will be part of Phife Dawg's second studio album, MUTTYmorPHosis, his first solo disc since 2000's Ventilation: Da Lp.

He played his last ever concerts with his A Tribe Called Quest bandmates in New York last week (ends24Nov13) when the beloved hip-hop group supported Kanye West on two of his Yeezus tour dates in the Big Apple.

The Scenario hitmakers split in 1998. Their reunion efforts were chronicled in the 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest.