Rocko – Gift of Gab 2

RoyalT Rating: 8 Crowns

GOG 2 cover

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Gift of Gab 2 seemingly emerged from nowhere because most major hip-hop websites anticipated Ignant or Seeing is Believing as Rocko’s next project. Nevertheless GOG2 dropped just in time to keep Rocko fans from assuming he took another lengthy hiatus, suspending their wishes for new music.

If you’re unfamiliar with his musical background, Rocko has a unique and identifiable style. Not only is his music filled with “integrity, ethics, morals, values, and principles” taught to him by “Da Streets,” but he has sentimental ideas on songs like “YU and I”, and insight that trap rappers typically wouldn’t show nor garner respect through. Rocko hardly ever deviates from topic, literally driving the point home until it’s exhausted– normally by using the the first half of his bars to establish repetition, emphasis and to create uniformity. It’s evident he “Prepared” for this project.

Rocko relays part of his preparation through  experimental concepts.  The countdown style hook of  “One Two” is understood, as in addition to– anything you can have, Rock has one too. “Slow Down” offsets the entire pace of the project. A slightly chopped-and-screwed voice doesn’t sound much different from normal, but offers very heartfelt lyrics.

“I’m too fast for the slowpokes/ Inspiration to the poor folks/ They live through me, they ride to me/ I love you, I hope you know what you are to me/My ar-tery-ty, blood I bleed, the air I breath/ I feed the streets, they help me eat.”

Great basslines flood the project. The captivating bass ripple of “Feels Good,” the eurogate based, spatial reverbs of “Stoooopid,” and the segmented chops of “Luv4 Life”  are sure to excite bass lovers.

Another strength of the opus is the proper use of features. An energized Gucci Mane brought the wild style, absent from Trap God 2on “You Can Tell,” and Lloyd brings the industry sound that could  elevate “ShiiKno” to a smash radio single.

Not all the features enhanced the project; Rick Ross offers some stale bars “U.O.E.N.O.” and Future sings a less than admirable hook. The chill vibe and idea of the song shows promise, but execution completely lacks.

Overall, Gift of Gab 2 is really solid. Elaborate metaphors, proper thematic scheming, booming beats and a unique style make this project worth a listen. There are a couple of mediocre songs like “Y” and “Imagine Dat,” but the overpowering strength of good songs greatly outweigh them.

Favorite tracks:

ShiiKno, Feels Good, You Can Tell

Least favorite tracks:

U.O.E.N.O. and Y

GOG 2 cover

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CyHi The Prynce – Ivy League Kickback

RoyalTy Rating: 7 Crowns

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It’s hard to pinpoint why Cyhi hasn’t garnered much fame outside of Georgia. People respect his lyrics, but up to this point, he doesn’t have a smash radio single or a track that sets the club on fire. So, instead of placing his fate in the hands of radio personnel and DJ’s, Cyhi attempts to get his music directly into people’s home the by catering the Ivy League Kickback to laid back party atmospheres.

“Kick Back Music” initiates the festivity appropriately. The aura emitted from deep, nonchalant bass tones completely encompasses kickback vibes. Cyhi’s slew of if-then statements makes for an entertaining listen as he quickly relays some components of a kickback. The rest of the picture is further developed on “Kick Back,” where Cyhi addresses any questions. In summary, a kickback is music, mingling, alcohol and drugs.

“Mary Jane” serves as a personification of Cyhi’s relationship with marijuana. Personifying marijuana allows Cyhi to relay a few weed tales that reinforces his love of marijuana. After all, he’s apparently not “Far Removed” from trafficking grams in his trap “Round the Corner.”

“Start a War” possibly is the best track. Fans grossly underrate Cyhi’s story rapping ability. His lyrics paint a panoramic view depicting how his friend was murdered for serving a dummy brick. Cyhi feels as if he could start a war while failing to cope with his loss.

Apart from trap tales, Cyhi hasn’t lost witty lines. “Big Head B*tches” is loaded with wordplay embedded in his reminder to all the boujee girls with overblown confidence.

“I told her I’d give her the world if she’d take off her clothes/So I went to Office Depot and bought that b*tch a globe.

The middle section of the Ivy League Kickback attempts to ratchet up the atmosphere before the rear end attempts to throttle down activity.

Granted the ratio of guys and girls is relatively balanced, every kickback has a song with potential to elevate kickbacks into a full blown party. “Whoa,” featuring a hook sampled from Big Sean’s verse on “Mercy,” serves as this song. Its healthy bass tone combined with lyrics that promote ass shaking just might cause a kickback to transform into a house party.

“Pillow Talking” and “Occupy Your Mind” slowly kills off commotion to signify an end of the kickback.

Although the vibe is adequately encompassed, the Ivy League Kickback doesn’t come without a few glaring faults. Cyhi’s experimental “I’m Catching Feelings” urgently needs a feature for the hook. Prefacing the song saying “I ain’t really no good singer” doesn’t excuse his lack of vocals and utter waste of a smooth beat.

“Sexy” is a wasteful filler song, a slightly remixed “A-Town” fails to enhance the opus, and

Cyhi should deviate the quirky tendency to structure cliché, elementary sounding songs as exhibited on “Favorite Things”.  Lastly, “We Drink, We Smoke” should have been omitted from the Ivy League Kickback because it appeared on his previous mixtape the Ivy League Club.

Overall, The Ivy League Kickback, is a solid project. It strengths outnumber it’s weaknesses and the kickback themed songs have plenty of replay value. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear one or two of these songs at your next kickback.

Favorite Tracks: Start a War, Whoa, Far Removed

Least Favorite Tracks” Sexy, I’m Catching Feelings

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Gucci Mane – Trap God

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Given how frequently Gucci Mane’s name has appeared in hip-hop headlines recently, there’s no surprise that a project followed. What better way to promote Trap God than to revive an infamous beef with Young Jeezy and subsequently release a diss track titled “Truth?”

Ironically enough, “Truth” doesn’t appear on Trap God. Nevertheless, Gucci generously loads his most recent opus with 20 tracks. Gucci rose to fame by flooding the streets with an abundance of music, and this mixtape appears to be no different. The majority of the tracks will be forgotten by time his next project releases because most tracks were less than memorable. Apart from beat selections, there aren’t many reasons to praise the self-proclaimed Trap God.

One high point of the mixtape comes from a song where Gucci collaborates with Rick Ross, who also has openly beefed with Young Jeezy, titled “Head Shots.” The track has a catch hook, and the appearance from industry heavyweight Rick Ross adds magnitude and almost solidifies it’s potential as message to further the  Young Jeezy beef.

Trap God is defined more by beats than by lyrics. Songs like “Act Up” and “Never See” have no place on this project because the project’s title leaves no room for their existence. Their overall commercial sound directly contrast what trap music is regardless of Gucci’s verses.

The efforts of songs like “F*ck the World,” “Servin” and “Suckaz,” which were genuinely nice tracks, were offset by subpar efforts on songs like “Rolly Up” and “Gas and Mud.”

“Rolly Up” lands as a failed attempt to establish a connection between street life and prestigious possessions. The connection falls ridiculously short and attempts to take opinion and assert it as a widely believed notion.

“A dope boy watch is a Rolex/ Every dope boy dream to have a Rolex/ Everybody in the hood want a Rolex/ You better keep your pistol with ya Rolex.”

Another fault of Trap God materializes in feature selection. Appearances from Waka Flocka are expected, but Gucci showed minimal effort, failing to extend to rappers apart from those on his Bricksquad label. Trap God serves as Young Scooter’s, Gucci Mane’s latest acquisitions, temporary platform to showcase rap as he appeared on 6 tracks.

Trap God’s makeup is slightly puzzling. Many of the first 10 tracks barely classify as trap music, while most songs after “Servin” (track 11) are actual trap songs. From a thematic standpoint, Gucci dropped the ball and failed to generate relevant trap music. Most of this was filler music, but given Gucci’s history, Trap God’s might signify the coming of a more serious project in the near future.


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Kirko Bangz – Procrastination Kills 4 (PK4)

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Procrastination Kills 4 (PK4) lands as a project slightly better than mediocre. Kirko adequately illustrates his major strengths, songs of pain and others with exceptional hooks, while simultaneously showing that limited concepts and delivery bobbles need a little improvement.

Kirko’s strongest suit derives from painting pictures of pain and narrating tales of transforming tragedy to triumph. There’s something about his struggle that allows him to captivate listeners even when they don’t relate to his struggles. The effect of “Use to Be” is one of the most impactful tracks. The story of Kirko’s aunt filling the role of his mother and best friend, before being murdered by her husband, provides glimpses into his trialing childhood.

“Have a auntie like your mom and she was your best friend/ She helped you get your first car, helped you furnish ya crib/ Get ya girlfriend a job, helped yal through s**t/ Dress your sister up for prom, helped you manage ya chips/ And you turn around and lose her in the same damn year.”

“Vent,” “On My Own” and “Help Me Out” further Kirko’s message and portraits of pain.

Another major strength of PK4 rests in musical versatility. Far too many rappers rely on bass-overloaded beats to fight half their battle of acquiring fans. It’s obvious that Kirko understands the importance of appealing beats because his previous singles – “What Yo Name Iz” and “Drank in my Cup” – garnered most of their attention from their bombastic bass lines and catchy hooks. On this project, Kirko doesn’t allow that same pattern to restrict or define his identity.

PK4’s song order works as a huge asset. Instead of placing the biggest hits within the first seven songs in typical fashion, Kirko groups the songs by type, which allows for smoother transitions. Bombastic hits come first followed by songs catered to sex and strippers. He then proceeds with narratives of struggle, heartache and pain, before ultimately finishing with a selection of smoother tunes that ride.

Houston, Kirko’s birthplace, flies under the radar for the majority of PK4 before its musical influences break through. It’s not until the last three tracks – especially “Lettin Them Know” featuring Paul Wall and “Laid Back” – where slower, riding beats or chopped and screwed hooks materialize.

Yet, Kirko demonstrates weakness. “Nasty N***a” could have been left off PK4 altogether. It doesn’t do much to improve the project, and the presentation of the song comes off a bit weak.

“Stop B*****n” follows suit. The song wasn’t well planned.  Kirko removed intensity from his voice, but the instrumentation of Drake’s interlude of “Good One’s Go” didn’t mesh with Kirko’s intended theme. Kirko has to consider his delivery prior to choosing beats. Sure, it’s supposed to be an emotional song where he airs out complaints, but his brash delivery was harsher than what the instrumentation could support, resulting in a clash.

Limited topics also work against Kirko. Every rapper has a comfort zone of subjects in which they operate, but Kirko’s potential promises better works in the near future.

Overall, Procrastination Kills 4’s semisolid effort serves as a promising platform for 23-year-old Kirko Bangz. His weaknesses are easily addressable. After a little maturation as a rapper and improved subject matter, Kirko’s potential could give birth to a consistent hit maker.


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Tyga – Well Done 3

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Young Money Cash Money Billionaire’s (YMCMB) artist Tyga adds another project to his “Well Done” series of mixtapes with his recently released, 16-track, Well Done 3. Well done overstates the quality of this mixtape. Reality shows that only a few tracks were actually well done. Tyga never consistently brought the heat to insure that, and left many tracks medium rare.

For instance, the track “Designer” borrows the beat of “Mercy,” one of hip-hop’s most popular and thorough tracks, and Tyga delivers a verse that says much of nothing about fashion or designer clothes. Apart from a brief and simple chorus, Tyga spirals on a tangent that ends with a topic completely different than the one intended.  That’s typical of Tyga though, and ironically enough he closed the song with this quote.

“One verse, one hearse.”

He definitely didn’t murder the song, so a hearse is far from necessary. If anything he needed an ambulance to doctor his flow.

Although many of the tracks were mediocre, Tyga’s rhymes often provoke those listening to bob their head in classic west coast fashion. It’s known that Tyga isn’t the most versatile rapper, but sometimes it’s less about what he says, and more about how he chooses to say it. Listen to the songs “King Company,” “Ratchet,” and “No Luck” produced by DJ Mustard for examples.

Fortunately, Well Done 3 had moments where it displayed the potential that initially got Tyga signed to hip-hop dynasty YMCMB. “Diced Pineapples” dials down Tyga’s erratic, aggressive flow as he narrates a situation between himself and a past love. More impressively, he remained on topic for the entire song.

“Switch Lanes,” featuring The Game, also continued displaying Tyga’s potential. Each Rapper takes turns delivering eight bars before passing the track back to the other. Apart from switching lanes rapping with The Game, Tyga showed how to switch flows. Stylistically, internal rhyme plays a heavy role in Tyga’s rap identity, but on “Switch Lanes” he starts his first verse a tad before the beat measure, which accentuates his style by placing rhymes before bass drops.

“Switch How I do it/my new b***h a nudist/ piece like a Budhist/ cooler than cool whip/ get brain don’t be stupid…”

Normally, featured guests don’t play much of a role in reviews, but half of the features on Well Done 3 were atrocious. Most were really bad, some were average; and apart from The Game, and Kirko Bangz, nobody else deserves honorable mention.

Houston native, Kirko Bangz, left his stamp. He appeared on two of the best tracks, “Girls and Guitars” as well as “Out this B***h.” Addtionally his recent single, “Drank in my Cup,” provided the framework for Tyga’s rendition “Ready to F**k.”

In his Well Done mixtape chain, Tyga takes the beat-snatching mixtape approach made popular by Lil Wayne.  To actually be “well done” Tyga’s work needs a little more cooking.  His style is ready, especially when rhyming internally, but his content and delivery could use some additional ingredients.

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Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) – EST 4 Life

Machine Gun Kelly – EST 4 Life

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Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) struggles to gain momentum at the outset of his most recent mixtape, EST 4 Life, but delivers great quality on the back half. EST 4 Life begins with a slew of tracks that may qualify as slightly above average: “Police,” “Get Laced,” “Blaze Up” and “EST 4 Life” ring in as tracks marginally better than mediocre. Contrarily, the tape closes strongly with songs like “Halo,” “Highline Ballroom Soundcheck” and “Letter to My Fans.”

“Get Laced” and “Blaze Up,” two tracks with similar themes mainly possess content surrounding marijuana. Of course, as far as rap is concerned, this comes as no surprise. There’s no avoiding tracks that boastfully discuss exceptional weed quality or the amount of blunts  rappers burns through. Those tracks definitely cater to smokers. DUB-O’s track “Hy for Days” also fits this category.

MGK is often heard saying “lace up” or “lace the f**k up” throughout his tracks, especially the smoker’s songs. Lace Up has been confirmed as the expected title of MGK’s debut studio album.

“Hold On (Shut up)” is the song most likely to MGK’s next single. This is the only song on the mixtape that landed a major feature, Young Jeezy, and has all the makings of a radio single: an ambiguous, commercial, catchy hook, a bass pounding beat and displays the signature flow that MGK places on tracks. MGK sounds like an uzi spitting bullets or chopping helicopter rotors when he quickens his pace to his signature tempo.

The tail end of the mixtape shows much more cohesion than the beginning. MGK presents better topics and increased emotionally infused music. “Her Song” and “Letter to My Fans” are perfect examples.

“Highline Ballroom Soundcheck” distanced itself from the rest of the tracks on EST 4 Life. Clearly it’s the best record. Freestyled over Notorious B.I.G’s “Dead Wrong,” MGK manages to build an engaging flow that smoothly navigates between topic while maintain a consistent rhyme. Typically, an excerpt of quotable lines would be provided, but the entire freestyle is worth hearing.

MGK performing at Rucker Park

MGK also murders his “Rucker Park Freestyle.” It’s a live recording that takes place at the historic Rucker Park, but MGK admits that he wrote the lyrics while en route. He manages to excite and engage the crowd using the refrained word of “muhf**kah” at the end of every line as he delivers a couple witty punch lines while sitting on the basketball rim.

Also, Honorable shout out to DUB-O, EST19XX label mate of MGK. He contributes several catchy songs to the mixtape, most notably “Paid” and the previously mentioned “Hy for Days.”
His tracks rival the quality of some of MGK’s songs, and that may not favor well for MGK. It’s unclear whether that highlights MGK’s failure to progress, or speaks volumes to the potential that DUB-O has to produce a hit. Nevertheless it boded well for MGK that this fellow Ohio state representer worked with him instead of against him.

All in all, MGK put forth a solid tape. He possibly could have considered a different track order to help capture listener’s ear earlier on, but the closing of the tape makes strides to make amends for that. EST 4 Life had a couple of dull moments, but should provide enough buzz to propel MGK’s debut studio album, Lace Up, when it hits the shelf on October 9th.


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Cyhi The Prynce – Ivy League Club

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Cyhi The Prynce may have just taken the hip-hop crown as the king of word play on his most recent mixtape Ivy League Club. He absolutely abuses tracks with interminable references that pile one behind the other.  This G.O.O.D Music member lives up to the name of his clique, and considering rap bars, he makes good music.

On “Food Savers & Scissors,” easily one of the most thorough topical tracks on this tape, Cyhi proceeds to deliver a set of instructions for trappers in the dope game. He makes it clear that by using food savers and scissors an individual can conceal the smell of drugs and transport them to desired destinations.  This track works well with the theme of the Ivy League Club because Cyhi assumes roles as rapper and professor while simultaneously delivering a message/lesson and bragging about his success moving weight.

“Im the man with them O-Z’s my plug call me wizard. Shawty I got some purp, and I got some killer. To you it smell like gas, but to me it smell like vanilla. And all my bud light cuz I don’t f**k with Miller. Not liquor… Reggie, I keep a bag of them veggies”

That’s a reference any smoker will instantly understand. Cyhi saturates his mixtape with exceptionally metaphorical smoking references using any vernacular commonly associated with marijuana.

Anytime you hear Cyhi say “like _________” whatever simile fills the blank as a punch line is a direct hit. Not only are his hooks catchy, but he literally beats the track up with punch lines. Hooks, jabs and uppercuts all connect as he bobs and weaves on the beat.

Yet, his composition is more than a punch line rapper. Songs like “Ivy League” and “Real Talk” exhibit how Cyhi elaborately paints pictures by allowing his references to link two unrelated topics into one cohesive idea.

Songs like “Tomorrow” and “Lives” exhibit charisma illustrating how Cyhi can curb the street edge and cater his flow to charm women.

Although Ivy League Club shines in lyrics and many other facets, there are some drawbacks.

Cyhi quickly tacks on lots of samples. “Lives,” which samples instrumentation from “Summer Madness” by Kool & the Gang, and “Entourage,” which samples “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” made famous by Marvin Gaye, are two examples of sampled beats. Illusive Orchestra, producer of the two beats, masterfully composed the instrumentations, but the industry wants new material, and that’s more Cyhi’s fault than the producer, especially given that the songs “Tool” and “Feet Up” sample the pattern of two other well-known songs.

“100 Bottles,” the only song that shows need for improvement, features Chris Brown and fellow label mate Big Sean. The hook’s redundancy lacks cohesion and is slightly annoying. Furthermore Cyhi’s flow didn’t uphold the standards asserted on the 16 previous tracks.

Apart from those few bobbles, the rest of Ivy League Club is masterful. Cyhi presents fans and haters with the dilemma of deciding whether he is a rapper or lyricist. His clever wordplay is just short of genius and possesses very distinctive qualities. There isn’t another rapper that has the ability to lace bars the way Cyhi does. His unpredictable combination of punch lines, similes, internal rhyme, irony, and relentless references makes him a truly unique artist.

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Dom Kennedy – Yellow Album

Dom Kennedy embodies stylistic qualities often associated with West Coast rap, most notably, a nonchalant demeanor and flow pattern. Kennedy displays how he rose to prominence rapping in California with the Yellow Album.

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The Yellow Album’s overall sound takes root in west coast beats that promotes it’s listeners to bob their head to simple, yet composed basslines as a dulled snare maintains rhythm. Kennedy has found a niche in delivering lines, followed by a one second pause or “uh” before he delivers the next bar. Often times he repeats the line before progressing to his next rhyme. “So Elastic,” “Gold Alphinas,” “5.0/Conversations” and “P + H,” concisely summarize how Kennedy plans to assert his identity in the rap game.

Yet, the mixtape offers more than slow, relaxing tracks for cocktail sipping as you unwind and close the night of partying. His tracks “Girls on Stage,” “1:25,” and “PG Click” quickened tempos forced Kennedy to show more rap versatility. In comparison to other tracks, his style becomes more fluid and greatly

contrasts his signature, segmented bar after bar delivery. By matching the
Nevertheless, Kennedy speckles wit and clever lines sporadically throughout the Yellow Album. Some of his lines generate laughs or resonate for a few seconds as the elaborate metaphor registers and sinks in.pace of the beat Kennedy transitions smoothly from one line to the next without the aid of a pause or unnecessary adlib. Kennedy needs more tracks like this!

One of the most impressive facets of the mixtape actually rests in what’s absent. Normally rappers overload songs

with references of blasting guns, violence, and endless boastful lines asserting their superiority to assumed haters, but it seems like Kennedy refused to do so. Instead he simply depicts his life as something enjoyable as he reaps the spoils of approaching stardom in rap.

Overall, the Yellow Album’s uniqueness plays a key role generating a favorable review.  Although Kennedy opts
to rap with a pause after many of his lines and it sometimes comes across as elementary, stylistically he’s developing a lane that will make him readily identifiable on tracks. Additionally, the minimal amount of violent bars is something rap can really use. It’s refreshing to hear bars that neglect an over utilized component of rap.  Kennedy’s beat selection is equally impressive. His variety of beats tap into moods of excitement and relaxation, which makes his music more relatable.

*Originally posted:

Tabi Bonney – The Endless Summer

There are more things to love than hate about Tabi Bonney’s fourth, and most recent mixtape, The Endless Summer.

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Bonney gains instant momentum and credibility as a rapper by asserting a style that runs unparralled to any major artist. Instead of hopping on machine synthesized, trunk pounding bass lines, Bonney chooses more mellow and relaxing beats with genuine instrumentation from bass guitars and a variety of other instruments. This bodes well for the mixtape because his beat selections enhance the title of his work, The Endless Summer. Many of his songs have a Caribbean summer’s tropical, laid back and relaxing feel coupled with bars that bring endless heat.

Bonney’s style is what’s most impressive about the mixtape. Apart from the fact that he possesses a voice similar to old-school rapper Slick Rick, Bonney proceeds to narrate situations with thorough topical verses that consistently use both internal and end rhyme. Unlike many current rappers who recklessly oscillate between topics, Bonney sticks to the concept of each track by developing his analogies with diverse, witty wordplay in each verse. His songs “Senior Year,” “Hang Glide,” and “Parachute” provide excellent examples.

“I don’t need that attention/your girlfriend like no he didn’t/I don’t need no Martin Lawrence and Pamela rendition/but anyways we can kick it, just no real commitment/and I hope you’re in shape if you plan on goin’ the distance,” he flows in his track “Parachute.”

Yet, high praise sometimes warrants criticism. Bonney should work on different delivery methods. He has capacity to become more versatile with how he raps. His flow pattern could use more vocal variation, which would add character and individuality to his thematic tracks.

Overall, Tabi Bonney gains points for style, instrumentation, content, and bar structure. He loses points for conceptual redundancy, (tracks “Parachute” and “Hang Glide”) lack of flow variation, and the evident fact that he still has plenty of room to grow as an artist.

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