8Ball Explains Why Hip Hop Needs Waka Flocka Flame, Discusses Soulful Solo LP

Exclusive: MJG's partner-in-rhyme says "Life's Quest" is not for the clubs and that Future and Waka Flocka Flame are "necessary" to Hip Hop whether you like it or not.

Premro Smith, better known to every emcee from the Southern states that ever picked up a pen as 8Ball, has a knack for pulling listeners into his lyrics regardless of the musical accompaniment to his words. Proof of his amazing ability to turn out any track can be found in the Memphis native’s motivational second verse to the acoustic guitar-driven “Soap Box” from the Drumma Boy-helmed Premro mixtape released earlier this year.

I’m a President, a leader, a teacher, a crooked preacher / I’m the star of the team, a fan up in the bleachers / I’m a baby off in Haiti with no mom or pops / I’m a farmer in Botswana trying to water my crops / I’m that young nigga out there trying to hustle them rocks / I’m that O.G. with that hook-up trying to wrap up them blocks / I’m that kush that ya smoking, I’m that coke up your nose / I’m that feeling that you get when you spit game to hoes / I’m that feeling every entertainer get, when they do what they do and they be so up on they shit / (Yeah) / I’m sex on heroin with back-to-back orgasms / In my mind, what I’m doing is way more than rappin’ / When good get to talking to you, devils get to walking with you, evil get to reaching for you trying to take it all from you / It makes you stronger, filthy rich or on the corner / Feeling good, living good, that’s what we all want.

Unfortunately, the living legend appears to be the last of a dying breed of Southern spitters that would even think to take the time to construct the above bars and make the effort to do “way more than rappin’.” And it was with that sad state of affairs in mind that 8Ball was asked about the decline of his region’s rhymers during his recent interview with HipHopDX to promote his forthcoming solo album, Life’s Quest (due July 24th). And what the man who came into the game 20 years ago demanding that folks “Listen To The Lyrics” of the fat mack had to say about his regional offspring that have chosen to not follow the blueprint for southern rapping he helped draw up might just manage to kick start a long overdue debate on just what folks in Hip Hop’s final frontier should do, or not do, to salvage their credibility and truly deliver on Andre 3000’s prophetic declaration at the 1995 Source Awards that “the South’s got something to say.”

HipHopDX: First off man, I’ve been waiting two years to dap you up for your verse on “Life Goes On” - one of the most powerful grown-man raps in recent memory. You’ve come a long way from the hoe-smacking, gun-busting guy on “Lay It Down.”  

8Ball: [Laughs] Definitely. And thank you.  

DX: I mentioned “Lay It Down,” I just wanna note that you got my brother and his friends kicked off of their junior high school bus back in ’94 for chanting “Lay it down, lay it down, you hoes lay it down” in unison. A dozen kids of all different races chanting that together. It was beautiful. [Laughs]
8Ball: [Laughs] Oh man, I’ve gotten a million stories, straight up.

DX: Switching gears here, “I wanna make them happy songs but it’s not an accurate reflection / I make street poetry with my immaculate perception.” Any theories on why cats are still making them happy songs in these days and times?

8Ball: I think when I said that [on “Immaculate Perception” from Premro] I wasn’t like really trying to downplay what anybody else is doing, ‘cause it’s all necessary. It’s all necessary to make what I do necessary.

It’s just, [happiness is] not what I see all of the time. Like, I can’t [lie and say that it is]. And it’s not just that, because a lot of people that make those great party songs, they lives be something else on the flipside. So, [Reality Rap] is just what I choose to do. I don’t know why when I listen to producers’ beats, tracks, when people make music for me, I gravitate toward that kind of [content] for some reason. And so why not do that stuff where I’m comfortable at? I feel comfortable doing that. Why not do that if people enjoy it, I enjoy it, than force myself to do a song that’s not me?

DX: “Your city, my city, every night the news is / Who got killed and the corruption in government / And I’m supposed to be a role model to the youth / But all I got for a muthafucka is the truth.” Do you understand the younger generation’s apathy when every night the news is so hopeless, or do you feel like that’s precisely the reason why they should be making more than them happy songs?

8Ball: Well, I think that … I don’t know. I was on two different levels when I wrote that. The every night on the news [part], that’s like [what’s happening] in any city. Everybody feel like it’s only in their city. “My city is [the hardest]. Over here, nigga, we hard. You gon’ get robbed if you ain’t got the right muthafucka wit’chu.” And that shit is in every city. It’s not just your city. It’s more prevalent in some than others, but the element is in every city, mayne. And it ain’t even urban no more, it’s everywhere. So that’s the origin of that lyric right there, like this is what our kids have to see on free TV every night [but] I’m supposed to censor what I do? And all my shit is is words.

It’s just the world we live in, that’s what that song “Drought” [from Premro] is all about to me. All that shit that I’m talking about on there, that’s just the world we living in. And people expect people in my position to be these great role models when it wouldn’t be the bad without the good, the yin without the yang. Our world wouldn’t work without negative and positive. And, I try my best but I’m only human.

DX: I can tell from your answers to these past couple questions that you really don’t wanna be critical of the younger cats but going through some of your bars here, man, it just makes me have to bluntly ask you: What the hell happened to Southern rappin’? I mean, wasn’t Waka Flocka’s excuse on “Immaculate Perception” for not following the lyrical blueprint that you and MJG, Scarface, UGK and Outkast laid down kinda lame, [that he shouldn’t have to step up his lyrics because he’s eating]?

8Ball: Well, I mean, I can’t control what comes out of somebody else’s brain, how they think. I just said this yesterday to somebody: You know how you in a city, you’re in New York somewhere or wherever, and you go across the street and it’s you and 10 muthafuckas going from one side of the street to the other? Y’all taking the same journey, y’all taking the same steps, but y’all not in the same place mentally. You might be thinking, Damn, where I’m fin to go get something to eat lunch at? And this muthafucka on the side of you might be thinking something totally different, but y’all on the same path.

I’m not downplaying nobody when I say whatever I say, it’s just my opinion on what I feel that I’m doing and what the world is doing. But whatever these young cats wanna rap about, whatever kind of music they wanna make, it’s on them because that’s still the shit that’s shaping tomorrow. Like I said, it’s necessary. All of that is necessary. We wouldn’t have the Big K.R.I.T.’s and the Lupe Fiasco’s and the Kanye West’s if we didn’t have the Future’s and the Waka Flocka [Flame’s] and the cats like them.

I been here for a while, and it’s all full circle, man. Cash Money and No Limit [Records] in the ‘90s were those cats that people were like, “Why do people like these muthafuckas? All these niggas talk about is money. These niggas can’t rap.” And now look at what that spawned, a whole generation of [rappers with that hustler’s mentality]. These cats aren’t only just rappers; a lot of these dudes is businessmen too. And all of that spawned that.

And I’m not dissin’ nobody when I talk like that, I’m just [telling the truth].

DX: Do you have personal conversations with the artists you’re working with trying to sorta put ‘em up on how you go through your thought process or the importance of focusing on their writing, or are you saying you just kinda let ‘em go wherever they’re going?

8Ball: Yeah, that’s what I do, I just [let ‘em do their thing].

With whoever, you can’t say in this world today what’s gonna work and what’s not. You can say what you love and what you don’t love, that’s your opinion, but we cannot say in this entertainment business that we are working in and flourishing in right now that that’s gonna work or that ain’t gonna work. If you got a machine, the machine can say what’s gon’ work and what ain’t gon’ work, ‘cause they the machine, but the niggas that making the music, mayne, [they don’t have any sway over that]. From [Jay-Z & Kanye West's] Watch The Throne to “got a condo on my wrist, nigga, and I’m cashin’ out,” those are two different ends of the spectrum and so can’t nobody say what’s gonna work.

You never know. Who coulda seen Gucci Mane right now, what he is right now years ago? Nobody saw that. Who coulda seen 2 Chainz, what he is today, when he was [part of Playaz Circle signed to DTP Records through] Ludacris? Could you see who he is right now? Nah, ‘cause we don’t know what’s gonna work. The lady, what’s her name? Nicki Minaj. Who could have predicted that? And that’s Hip Hop. All of that is Hip Hop.

That’s just my opinion. That’s just where I go with that; you just gotta let muthafuckas do them. It’s all art.

DX: I appreciate that perspective, I’m just angrier than you are. [Laughs]

8Ball: Yeah, I know, I know, that’s just how I look at it man. I’m a Libra, I’m a free spirit.

DX: Let me switch gears on you again, the first single, “Good Girl, Bad Girl,” from your forthcoming solo album, it’s cool for what it is, that strip club song. But how much of that Soul music are we gonna get on Life’s Quest, like “The Man Under The Bridge” from Premro?

8Ball: Ten songs are that. The only two club-ish songs that I have on my album are “Good Girl Bad Girl” and I got another [Rock-tinged] joint called “Far Away.” And, “Good Girl Bad Girl,” it’s club-ish but it’s still in my own way ‘cause it’s a little story. Even the song with 2 Chainz on the album, “Don’t Bring Me Down,” it’s not the norm. It’s all me.

DX: Was that a conscious decision? Like, I need to take it back to the Lost days, I need to take it back to the In Our Lifetime days?

8Ball: I mean, it wasn’t really taking it back it’s just how I feel right now. Everything that I do has always been how I feel [at that time]. And this album is where I’m at right now in my life, what I’m thinking about and how I view the world.

DX: It ain’t nothing but money in your glasses [on the album cover]. [Laughs]

8Ball: Exactly. But see, it’s a lot attached to that. And I talk about that on this record. There’s a lot that goes with that. So, I think once people get the album, it’ll kind of explain a little more of what I’m talking to you now about.

I got a song, “Life’s Quest,” that’s the title-track with Angie Stone, and that’s really [personal]. She’s really close to her kids, and I’m real close to mine, so we both kinda gelled on this song ‘cause it’s like, “If I die today I wrote this song to let you know I love you so / Always on my mind even though I’m always on the go.” And every song on the album is kind of like that. I got a song called “Indestructible” and it’s probably gonna be one of them graduation theme songs ‘cause it’s straight inspirational. I got a song called “Good Days” with Slim from 112 and the hook basically says that I can’t complain – I rap about other people in my life that have had like terrible downfalls in they life, but I can’t complain compared to the shit they going through. And the whole album is like that; it’s all me.

DX: You mentioned Big K.R.I.T. before, I understand he did some stuff for the album?

8Ball: Yeah, we got a song called “We Buy Gold,” me, him and MJG. We did a bunch of songs together and this is just like one of the pieces of the puzzle.

DX: That’s exciting news to hear that y’all got more stuff coming with K.R.I.T. He’s like the continuation of that “Backyard Mississippi” vibe. He wasn’t even born till like ’86 but he feels that, he’s parallel with what y’all were doing in the ‘90s and taking it forward.

8Ball: Yeah, I say his old man or his mama, they had to be playing that Soul shit when he was in the womb or something, mayne. ‘Cause, he got it in him fo’ sho.

DX: Yeah, I just wish there was more of that soul food to feed this fast food generation.

8Ball: Yeah. And it’s out here, but you know the powers that be [aren’t gonna let that become mainstream]. I think that everything now gets a good push though with the freedom people have to go on the Internet and listen to what the fuck they want to. And I think with that people pull the good shit out of the bullshit.

Purchase Music by 8Ball

Purchase Music by 8Ball & MJG

RELATED: 8Ball Life's Quest Album Artwork


  • Anonymous

    the only reason there is a south and west coast rap scene is because the pricks in ny wouldnt let us (the south)in. la opened up and then them and ny shitted on the south. we had to open our own shop. we rode for about 10 yrs before yall even noticed us. we had n choice, but southern music always was for ass shaking. our shit had to bang n the trunk, yall east coast nothaving car ass niggas never got that.

  • wyndero

    "I appreciate that perspective, Im just angrier than you are" Dude you went out of your way to try and get this grown man to respond on how you feel!! And you implied that the south is so wack as if NY or some other region is doing things from a great perspective. Your total disrespect for the south was apparent and ran through out the interview. Do your job and interview the talented MC "Ball" and leave your personal opinions to a blog and not an article.

    • wyndero

      what was spam? It ask me my name, e-mail address and my website, I did not put my company in the body of my statement. I really would like an honest answer, as I am never able to comment and I am a dedicated supporter of this site.

  • rsquid

    ... Pimp C was making beats before you were born stupid. Go play Short Texas, Murder, Wood Wheel and tell me that aint the truth. Aint none of yall talking bout that Suave House. Suave got the hook up cuz Sauve got the cheese! Man the hottest dude repping philly is rapping on a southern label..?? get your mind correct talking nothing but foolishness. But aside from the discrepancies in your typing, don't for one more second continue believing that the roots of hip hop are up north. This is BLACK MUSIC which has developed from blues, jazz, and rock n roll which developed from hymns in a slave shack. Yall need to know-the-ledge before you fall off of it.

  • Anonymous

    Always enjoyable to read interviews of an OG.

  • Anonymous

    The south will NEVER have better spitters than rappers from Philly on up. Except for the Clipse, VA on down is fuckin trash on a whole lyrically

  • The187Worm/BNixon

    Scarface, Outkast, and many others are better then all these faggots... T-Rock is the King of the South tho!

  • The B

    Scarface & Outkast are the best that ever came out of the south lyrically. Everyone else from the south is light years behind.

    • ETK

      Damn yall forget that nigga Pimp he's a dead and gone ass nigga and couldn't rap for shit when he was alive so he ain't gonna rap now.

    • Anonymous

      The FUCK? Dissing the PIMP? Pimp C made dope ass music, he may not have been the best technical and lyrical emcee but he perfected his craft, he had dope delivery and was a distinguished beatsmith. QUIT HATIN THE SOUTH

    • fnl

      you right the worst rapper to ever come from the South is Pimp C.

    • Anonymous

      Nah, Bun B wasn't fuckn with face in the early days. You would have to put T.I. over mystikal even tho I don't like T.I.

    • Chris

      Ummm sort of...While I will say I Face and Kast are my favorite musicians that the South has produced, 8Ball - Lost, Mystikal - Mind of Mystikal, & all pre 2003 Bun B material easily hang lyrically with anything Face and Kast have put out...BTW Face & 3 Stacks are both in my top 5 alive

  • Anonymous

    i kind of agree. there needs to be a balance in hip hop. the good shit need to balance the bad shit. it cant always be spitters, BUT it cant be filled wit flockas and lil Bs. there needs to be a balance. sumthin for everyone. id be nice if everyone had great taste in artists such as nas and slaughterouse but ppl dnt. they prefer artists like wayne an lil b an ppl like that. so there needs to be artists like that.

    • truth

      If you say so 'Common Sense'.


      Weak comeback, homie. I can tell you're no older than 17. I win. COMMON SENSE slays the Truth.

    • truth

      Pretentious buffoon; wow Brother Common Sense, those GED courses got you using big words, I ain't mad at you homie. Its all good though; another man's trash (in this case Waka Flocka is practically every man's trash) is another man's treasure. Enjoy your life as his biggest groupie; if you play cards right, you might actually get on the Short Bus Shawty tour bus with him and all his learning impaired buddies.


      I bet you were that kid in school who thought he was so smarter than everyone cuz he listened to Brother Ali and Afu-Ra. Yet you still felt alienated from everyone else, preaching about an ideology that nobody cares about. It's not it's not important, but it's because it's irrelevent. Your little mindset is irrelevent in the grad scheme of things, and until you see tht you're gonna keep getting shitted on by Flocka. And that's real. Now try coming back from that.


      Pretenious opinion by a close-minded buffoon. You just don't get it. It's coo tho. Every positive force needs it's negative opposite. I see which role you're playing. Fuck outta here, loser.

    • truth

      You just killed your own argument by saying that you know lyrical music. So how does Waka Flocka, Gucci Mane, etc even compare to Nas, Jay, Eminem, and the like? You said you mess with Waka because he gets you hyped at a party. Well there is a huge difference btw party music and hip hop; Katy Perry, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga and them make party music. Waka, Gucci, Meek Mill and them other 'rappers' consider themselves real emcees, and they will never be that. Their lyrics are one-dimensional and ignorant, and like I said, it takes a fan with a one-dimensional, simple mind like yourself to bump their music & think that its real music. I agree that change is good, and artists like Drake (yeah I said Drake), Kendrick Lamar, Stalley, Big KRIT, Currensy, are the future. Common Sense, get some common sense before you embarass yourself even more by calling yourself that.


      Argue against logic if you want to, but you'll only look stupid. Stop being one dimensional thinkers and start being multi-dimensional humans. Some people can be so simple, its disgusting... We got all of the potential in the universe yet we're bitching about music. Fuck Hip Hop nigga. Worship your dreams first.


      I see I'ma have to kurb some niggas tonight. I been waiting for this... Look, for one, bitches, I only fucks with Flocka cuz of his energy. He gets me hyped and his music is tight for the parties. Two, he's the only rapper in my iPod who's considered weak. I fucks with niggas Los, Eminem, Nas, REKS, Celph Titled, Sean Price, Kendrick Lamar, Shad, Fashawn, Elzhi, real lyrical muthafuckas. So calm that shit down, pussy. I know lyrical music, bitch. Unlike y'all overly nostalgia Hip Hop "heads" I understand that the game has changed, and guess what? BITCHING ABOUT IT WONT CHANGE SHIT, FUCKERS. Yall niggas are so closed off to society as a whole yall forget that some things happen OUT OF OUR CONTROL. Hip Hop, hell BLACK CULTURE (I'm black btw too bitch) has always been trendy. If you dont believe me, do some research and go back to the blues and jazz age. So wearing ur little starter jackets and gold hoop earrings wont change anything. Acting pretenious aint going to do shit. In our position, we cant change the trend. The Gucci Mane and Flocka's are going to continue getting airplay because there's a fanbase for that type of music. If you don't fuck wit it, you just dont fuck wit it. Simple as that, bruh bruh. You "Heads" are more cliche than the hotshot Young Money fans. Both sides need to sit down and evaluate yall selves before yall even open yall mouth about Hip Hop. This example is cliche as fuck, but you can be the illest muthafucka lyrically all you want, but if you cant make something musically that impacts people, you aint got no career, bro. Both of yall dont know shit about anything. Everybody needs to wake the fuck up. And if anybody tries to debunk what I said, its only out of ignorance and the need to cause more drama. Yall know Im right. So why defer? Its only real.

    • So Icy Boi!

      One thing yall should realize is that Rap is not music anymore, it's BUSINESS. And it's been like this since fucking 1979.

    • Anonymous

      I don't know what happened. Back in the days, if you couldn't spit a rhyme, you were out. Now if the shit sounds catchy that's it, you got a hit and a career. Fuck that bullshit.



    • Anonymous

      I believe skills is what protected the art form. when you take that away, anybody thinks they can do it and then it lessens the value of the music and that is what is happening. it's going to get real ugly when the hip hop recession hits. The ones that love the music and the art of it will still be doing it and then you will see cats say ain't no money over there and they'll drop off. The flood gates are open right now and the money is for the taking. Souls for sale over here and lifting souls over here. Which line will you be in?

    • truth

      Common Sense, you just another retarded nigga buying this trash that these rappers with learning disabilities like Waka Flocka, 2 Chainz, Future etc are putting out. Rap should be about quality, about people that have real skill, that have the talent to talk about more than one subject cleverly. If anything, people like you prove that hip hop has gone to hell because Future, Waka Flocka and them other wack rappers wouldn't even be out if people like you didn't buy that trash they put out. You have garbage rappers only because the quality of fans have gone down.


      LIl Loc, shut yo bum ass up. Ignorant, close-minded niggas like you are what's wrong with the world now. It's either your way or the high way. That's why niggas like you just get shitted on, fuck boy.

    • Lil Loc

      nah, I ain't with that. I still think Rap should be about quality. It should be about who's the wildest, who's got skills, not about who's the richest or who sells the most.

  • Fuck Memphis

    Just lost all of the little respect I had for 8Ball. And fuck MJG too. Them niggas lame as fuck.

    • Jasper Murdock

      Don't you get it Gil Scott and Issac Hayes are from TN. Yes I'm talking about hip hop. Gil Scott, James Brown, and Issac Hayes had a huge impact on it. SMH, at Gaymes Brown, Whamp, Whamp, Whamp! What a wack joke. You needed to be tossed off the stage like Krs. One did to PM Dawn. For the record, one of the main dudes behind Biggie and Puffy's hits was from Memphis. Google Carlos Broady.

    • Fuck Memphis

      ^^^^^ go to sleep kid, nobody's talking about Gaymes Brown we talking about HIP HOP and he was from Georgia not Tennessee

    • Jasper Murdock

      Without Memphis you wouldn't have Stax Records. You wouldn't have the most sampled artist outside of James Brown, Issac Hayes. James Brown, Gil Scott Heron, and Issac Hayes were rhyming before your favorite emcees where. All three of them are from the south and two of them are from Tennessee. These Hip Hop elitist are so damn close minded! Why don't you make the music you want to listen to and keep your opinions to yourself.

    • Fuck Memphis

      ^^^^^^ Nothing but wack ass bullshit!!! C'mon son, who the fuck needs crunk music?!

    • Chris

      Memphis never didnt anything for Hip-Hop?! GTFOH...without 3-6 Mafia, there is no Lil' Jon, no krunk musis, possibly not even any club anthems...You are completely ignorant to how past musicians' sounds influence the evolution of a genre of music...Quite pathetic how poorly educated you are on the history and influence of southern hip-hop

    • Fuck Memphis

      ^^^^ Bitch Memphis never did shit for Hip Hop but disgrace with fake niggas like 3 6 Mafia and these hos 8ball & MJG. There's no Memphis rap record from the 80's and Memphis niggas don't spit fast, they slow as fuck.

    • Anonymous

      Fuck you do you know how much influence Memphis had on hip hop to hooks crunk music beats and not to mention that tongue twist style they was doing that shit in the 80's. Show some respect homie Memphis has infulence hip hop a lot. Go listen to Tommy Wright III Playa Fly the 3 6 mafia from 94'. That real Memphis shit.

  • Anonymous

    In our Lifetime has some of the best beats ever of any hip hop album they were really pushing the production as far as possible on that album. Also lyrically probably their peak and really influential on Krit eg "I cant be nobody but me"

  • Anonymous

    and we still saying they cant rap trust me nothing change with that cash money is wack tho no limit had a couple decent people on the roster(mac,mysticaland fiend wasnt too bad)atleast they tried too write somethig good ATLEAST. oh and the south based production used to be funk now its all this wack synth bullshit. what happen to the dope southern rap or hip hop in general

    • PM

      There are good rappers coming from all over Just have to look

    • LOL

      Im glad you added that Hip-Hop in general part at the end. Cuz really aint no region the way it used to be. But the best up and coming spitters I've heard have been from the south. Yelawolf, Rittz, Krit, Jay Electronica......... And only two of em have dropped their debuts so far........Cant wait to hear Jay E and Rittz debut, its gone be sick...

  • jerry

    What's the best 8Ball & MJG album to buy, as far as what influenced K.R.I.T. so much? All the stuff I've heard sounds nothing like his stuff.

    • bgvto

      fuck yall Comin Out Hard is king, fuck In My Lifetime.

    • doja

      In Our Lifetime Vol. 1 is one of the best southern records ever made. Consistent throughout and has bangers with bars that switch instantly between drug talk to straight up poetry.

    • Gnip

      the only album I like is the one that have drown in the tub, rub-a-dub-dub, some niggas get pussy whipped and fall into them love bugs

    • Chris

      8Ball - Lost (Double Disc) is probably the closest to K.R.I.T.'s production style although I would say K.R.I.T.'s sound is closer to an Organized Noise (Outkast) or Pimp C (UGK) style of production....Lost, In Our Lifetime - Vol. 1, Comin' Out Hard, Space Age 4 Eva, and my personal favorite On Top of The World are all great 8Ball & MJG albums...Also peep MJG - No More Glory

    • Anonymous

      you wanna know the truth?! Comin' Out Hard is the greatest rap album of all time, period.

    • Anonymous

      On top of the world and 8 ball lost had to be his influence and this comes form a southern O.G. I've been listening to hip hop since 84. The only thing the south had going for them was Mr. Mike bass tapes we use to buy the hell out of those tapes. Damn Im getting old.

    • Ash Motown

      @Jerry Space Age 4 Eva is probably the closest to that Big K.R.I.T. sound. In Our Lifetime Vol. 1 is another good album to listen too.

    • Jasper Murdock

      In my opinion, K.R.I.T.'s productions sounds more like U.G.K.'s and Dungeon Family's. 8 ball and MJG had a lot of funk on their albums. They had live guitars and instruments on them. However Money On The Floor sounds like an 8 ball and MJG record! I like On Top Of The World and On the Outside Looking In a lot. Space Age Pimpin' and Lay It Down are my joints! UGK, Scarface, Dungeon Family, and Suave House had great production.

  • Anonymous

    this nigga needs to get his hearing checked.

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