• diem@lyricalgypsy.com

Writer’s Block

The Death of DMX

The Death of DMX: A Tormented Soul and Far from a Hero

If you research the life and death of Earl Simmons, the music artist professionally known as DMX, you’ll likely find a wide variety of resources. Some results might include news reports about his untimely death on April 9, 2021, at just 50 years old. Others might be articles calling him a hero in the rap industry or crediting his poetry and lyrics for helping generations of people through difficult times in their lives.

However, it’s hard to look past the reckless lifestyle he led. Or the fact that he died from “catastrophic cardiac arrest” due to an apparent drug overdose, which he knew was a definite possibility. He almost overdosed once before, and he often wrote about his addiction in his lyrics. So, perhaps we should be talking about that instead? And maybe we should stop calling criminals and drug addicts heroes?

“Like damn look how that rock got him…”

It’s no secret that DMX struggled with drug addiction for most of his life. Or that he spent time in juvenile detention, jail, and prison off and on for the better part of thirty years. But what some people don’t know is that DMX also had severe asthma as a child, then depression, and bipolar disorder as an adult. He smoked what he thought was just marijuana with a mentor and became addicted to crack cocaine as a teenager.

DMX’s physical and mental health issues became a deadly combination when coupled with his lifelong drug addiction. He canceled several shows and went to rehab at least three times but never conquered his demons. Eventually, he sought refuge in rap music and started focusing more on his art than crime. But as a career criminal with a reputation to uphold, it wasn’t long before he hit rock bottom and “that rock got him.” 

“I show no love, to homo thugs…”

Many social media followers call DMX a legend, an icon, and a dynamic influencer in the rap industry, and maybe all that is true. He was musically talented, due to hard-hitting, controversial, and in-your-face lyrics in the late 1990s. But if we listen to his music—I mean, really listen to it—he was far from being anybody’s hero. 

The truth is that DMX enjoyed being a criminal. He wrote about crime, almost like it inspired him, and in some interviews, he even called being in jail his playground. 

DMX was also blatantly homophobic, a womanizer, and a dead-beat dad who chose to write the lyrics: “I show no love, to homo thugs.” And he even tattooed the Bible verse Exodus 1:7 on his neck almost as permission to father fifteen children, which he would never take care of financially. Instead, he left this world and his children with a net worth of negative one million dollars. 

“What good is it for a man to gain the world, yet lose his own soul in the process?”

Maybe it’s true that DMX was a legend of sorts, but certainly not in a good way. He wrote lyrics and messages meant to resonate with criminals and drug addicts. And during interviews with Dr. Phil, he talked about becoming a preacher but never once tried to inspire his most devoted fans to make better life choices. Why would he? He had a reputation for being a badass, not some compassionate, teary-eyed angel who cared more about his fellow man than becoming an influencer.

No doubt, DMX put his heart and soul into his music. But what did his lyrics and reckless lifestyle teach the younger generations? And what about all the recent articles calling him a hero? What do they teach other aspiring music artists about the reality of the music industry? That it’s O.K. to live a life of crime and addiction to all kinds of things as long as you find God and repent your sins through music? Damn, I hope not.

"I put you here to do a job, and your work ain't done
To live is to suffer, but you're still my son
And there will be a time when you shine as bright as the stars
But there won't be a, his or hers, just ours

Then you'll see what I've been tryin to show you, all these years
Do the right thing; cause after the tears, come the cheers

I will, my Lord, with my heart, and my soul
That's gonna be how I roll, from now until I'm old
Lead and I'll follow, you take away the sorrow
I'm a sleep on what you said and holla back tomorrow..."

~ DMX, featuring Regina Bell in the song "Angel"

Final Thoughts: Did DMX Write Music as a Cry for Help?

DMX took on a different personality to pursue his music career. On one side, he was Earl Simmons, a god-fearing man, and father who loved his children. A man who wanted to do better and tried but never fulfilled his goal of sobriety. Then, on the other side, he was DMX, the Dark Man X, with a tragic past full of abuse, crime, and addiction. He was full of regret and maintained a victim mentality through his music instead of learning how to forgive himself and move onto a healthier life.

As mentioned before, the artist DMX wanted to be an influencer. He wanted to inspire people, not just in music but also as a preacher. Or whichever path he thought might give him a better foundation in life and a bigger following in his music career.

But spirituality doesn’t work like that, and neither does religion. Sometimes we have to give up to gain, ask for help, and retrain our minds to live without things we once loved the most.

Unfortunately, DMX never asked for help with his behavioral health issues. He was institutionalized once, involuntarily. But as far as I can tell, he never tried any medications. Why? Was he too embarrassed to admit he had a problem? Or just too proud to ask for help?

DMX: A Sagittarius, Know-it-all, and Lover of Attention

Earl Simmons was born on December 18, 1970. He was a Sagittarius and a fire sign with a highly motivated spirit.

When DMX became famous, he already had several untreated mental health problems, so living the lifestyle helped intensify his addictive personality. And as with many fiery Sagittarius spirits, he had a hard time asking for help. He grew up on the streets and thought he knew how to take care of himself, but he never understood the importance of having good mental health.

As the rap artist, I think Earl loved being the center of attention. He loved the publicity, the money, and the fame of his successful music career. But frankly, he couldn’t handle all the pressure. He proved that by setting the wrong priorities in life, choosing to self-medicate with drugs, and by not learning to manage his money better.

I also think Earl wanted to get clean for good, but he didn’t want to give up his music career. Dark Man X allowed him to adopt a victim mentality through his lyrics and feed his fiery ego. So, he kept self-sabotaging because deep down, he believed he was already too far gone to save.

If DMX were still around today, I would shake his hand, but not for being a hero. I would call him a martyr because although he lived his life out loud, he died for all the wrong reasons. He died in pain and regret and without truly knowing the redeeming power of self-love.

Like many music artists, DMX died as a character, the Dark Man X, and not as Earl Simmons. If people insist on calling him a hero, a legend, or an icon, I hope they realize who he was behind the mask. He was a tormented man, but if his life and death have taught us anything, it’s why we need to start taking behavioral health issues more seriously.

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Country Music Teaches the Importance of Self-Love Even While in a Relationship

Country Music Teaches the Importance of Self-Love Even While in a Relationship

I often hear people say they don’t like listening to country music because the songs are too depressing, and sometimes they’re right. Country music tells a story about life, which isn’t always glamourous. But often, somewhere between all the seemingly depressing lyrics, there’s a lesson to be learned. A lesson about the essence of life, the importance of self-love, and why some songs feel more relatable than others.

The following post is a long narrative about some of the struggles I’ve had in my past relationships. The post is incredibly personal, but I hope by sharing my story, I can inspire other people to share theirs. And together, we can all learn how to overcome some of the problems in our relationships through a better understanding of self-love.

Thanks for reading.

“He’s One of the Good Ones, and He’s All Mine…”

Today’s Lyrical Journey took me on a rabbit-hole adventure through four country songs that told me a story about the connection between relationships and self-love. Except when I woke up this morning with “The Good Ones” by Gabby Barrett playing in my head, I didn’t immediately recognize the song. Or the almost personalized message hidden behind the lyrics.

Lately, I’ve had trouble recognizing all the good I have in my current relationship. But this morning’s song helped me take a moment to recognize that my partner and my relationship is amazing compared to many others. I might complain a lot about our differences, and other trivial things that piss me off, but perhaps it’s good to have some conflict. I can’t imagine being with someone who always agrees with me, or is so much like me that it’s sickening.

Music, not just country music, always has a way of reminding me of how my life could be worse. But it wasn’t until I watched the music video for the first time that I finally understood the lesson. I already have one of the good ones, and he’s all mine.

“A love me like he should one
Like he wrote the book one
The kind you find when you don’t even look one
…”

No, my partner isn’t perfect, but I’m borderline fucking crazy, at times. But we keep going, and we still keep showing our commitment to each other despite all the highs and lows.

Every day, we make a conscious effort to fall in love with something new about ourselves and about our relationship together. Some days feel harder than others to recognize the good, but this little mindfulness exercise helps keep many of the positive aspects about our relationship in the forefront of our vision. It gives us something positive to focus on and also incentive to refuse defeat because we’ve already come so far.

“And then I hope he cheats, like he did on me…”

YouTube threw me a curve ball by playing “I Hope” by Gabby Barrett, which is one of my least favorite country songs. I don’t know why I despise the song so much, but to me, the lyrics sound insincere and narcissistic. And the entire song reminds me that sometimes I’m a hypocrite.

As a spiritual life coach, I often warn my clients about becoming conditioned by their pasts. I warn them to put their trust issues aside and stop allowing non-issues to become issues, but sometimes I don’t listen to my own advice.

When I start feeling insecure in my relationship, it’s usually not about feeling distrust or jealousy toward my partner. I rarely feel jealous. But I do get depressed, anxious, or mad. Especially when I remember back to the time when my previous partner conceived a baby with someone else while we were still together. The whole experience and dramatic break up destroyed my self-confidence and made me question if I will ever be good enough for anyone.

Unfortunately, my current partner met me while I was on the rebound. Looking back, I wish I would’ve taken some time to remain single and sort out my problems before jumping back into another relationship because my mental health issues are still causing us problems. My partner tries to help me cope, but sometimes, it’s all too much to handle. We start resenting each other, and sometimes, we drift apart for months at a time.

So yes, I agree that some country music is incredibly depressing. And that some songs, like this one, top the charts when it comes to taking my emotions on one helluva rollercoaster ride. But even narcissistic songs serve a purpose. Without them, perhaps I wouldn’t be able to recognize my contribution to all the problems in my current relationship. Or, unlike my ex, I would have never learned how to accept accountability for my mistakes.

P.S. My ex found out that the baby wasn’t his and tried to rekindle our relationship, but I not-so-politely declined his invitation.

“Mama, can you die from a broken heart?”

When it comes to country music, “Die from a Broken Heart” by Maddie & Tae is depressing, no doubt. But not in a way that I can relate to outside of High School. It’s also not one of my favorite songs because it feels too juvenile, and because the lyrics trigger memories about getting my heart broken for the first time.

As a Freshman, it took every bit of courage I had to invite my crush to homecoming. He agreed, and I remember feeling so excited about going dress shopping. Homecoming would be my first official date.

But then my crush called me the night before homecoming to cancel our plans. He claimed that he had forgotten about making plans with his friends, but I still wonder if any part of his story was true. Looking back, I don’t think he ever liked me the way I liked him.

“Was it ever really real
If he don’t feel like I feel?”

“How does he sleep at night?
Mama, the nerve of this guy
To leave me so easy
Am I gonna be alright?
I wanna kick myself for falling so hard
Mama, can you die from a broken heart?”

I felt heartbroken, and I remember crying, but not just about my date canceling on me at the last minute. I felt more upset about not having time to find a new date, and about spending all of my allowance (and then some) to buy a new dress that I would never get to wear.

Then I talked to some of my friends and we all decided to go together. I got to wear my new dress, and I ended up having an amazing night, despite my broken heart. Self-love saved me.

“I found my independence, can’t believe I ever lost it…”

By the time I reached the final song on my Lyrical Journey, I was ready to eat my words. People are right, I thought. Country music is so depressing. But then I heard “Miss Me More” by Kelsea Ballerini and it gave me a new perspective about relationships in life.

According to an article written by Psychology Today, the main reason most relationships fail is due to a lack of trust. But I don’t necessarily agree with this sentiment. I think relationships fail because of each person’s sudden loss of independence and lack of personal identity. Two people become one. Invites start arriving in both names. Memories now include both parties. Also, there’s less autonomy in a relationship. Each individual’s personal decision about simple things, such as what to eat, what to wear, and how to take care of one’s body becomes a topic for discussion. And the end result is usually based on what the other person likes or dislikes the most, rather than the individual’s preferences.

“I forgot I had dreams, I forgot I had wings
Forgot who I was before I ever kissed you
Yeah, I thought I’d miss you
But I miss me more…”

In my case, I often am loyal to a fault. So much that when I begin a new relationship, I will do anything I can to make it work. Even if making it work means losing myself along the way. Or giving up on all the things I once loved doing. My quirky personality, favorite hobbies, and even changing the way I dress to appease my partner. Meanwhile, I slowly fade to black. I dissolve inside the unity we’ve created. I lose my self-identity and become resentful toward my partner.

How Listening to Country Music Helped Me Reinvent Myself and Fix My Broken Relationships

Many couples think they should behave as a couple all the time. But after writing this post, I’ve learned why practicing individuality and self-love is so important, even while in a relationship. The following are my final thoughts about how I’ve learned to reinvent myself and fix many of my broken relationships. Regardless of whether the relationship is with a friend, family member, lover, or co-worker, the same principles apply.

How do I keep my current relationship from self-destructing?

Stop spending so much time together. I know this advice might seem strange, but sometimes, less is more. Distance yourself from a clingy friend. Set clear boundaries for a nosy family member. Find a new hobby to do without your lover. Take mental health days off work. You deserve space.

Self-love is learning when to give yourself time to breathe.

How do I stop self-sabotaging my relationships?

Eliminate self talk and get out of your head. Stop looking for problems that don’t exist. Don’t go into a relationship expecting it to fail. Keep your past fears of failure, heartbreak, and mistakes out of your current thoughts. Imagine good things for yourself. Know that you deserve happiness.

Self-love is creating the life you want to live.

How do I mend a broken heart?

Reinvent yourself. Change the way you think and act. Feel comfortable alone and within your own skin. View every new relationship as a goal, but not as the goal, and every heartbreak as a marathon, not a sprint. Only invest your time in people who value your time. Take time to heal. View the hard times as experiences, and lessons, but as not obstacles.

Self-love is learning how to become more resilient.

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If It's Meant to Be and How Expectation Ruins the Adventure

If It’s Meant To Be and How Expectation Ruins the Adventure

How many times have you hoped, prayed, wished, or worried, only to hear someone say: If it’s meant to be, it will be? It gets annoying. Right? Well, brace yourself because this post won’t offer you any other advice. Why? Because sometimes, a broken record is what you need to hear, even if you don’t realize it. Sometimes you have to listen to the same advice over and over before the message resonates with your soul and the lesson finally sticks.

So, let’s begin.

Below, are four examples of songs with the same phrase: Meant to be, in either the lyrics or the title. Each provides the same bit of seemingly repetitious advice but for different reasons.

Choose the song that best applies to your life’s current situation and share your thoughts in the comment section below.

>>> Read more about The LG Project here: Find Yourself. Inspiring Others. <<<

“If it’s meant to be, it’ll be, baby, just let it be…”

In 2017, Bleta Bebe Rexha and country music band Florida Georgia Line released a song titled “Meant to Be” that topped the pop and country music charts for over forty-four consecutive weeks. Today, almost four years later, the same song has almost one-billion views on YouTube and continues to gain popularity.

But why?

Well, I’m sure there are many reasons, but my guess is because it has a catchy hook and because people like to dream.

Like many other popular songs today, “Meant to Be” features lyrics and a video that speaks about relationship problems, breakups, starting over from nothing, and chasing dreams. All the dramatic stuff that people want to hear. The lyrics for this song are repetitious, borderline annoying—so much that when it starts playing, I turn off the radio—but the message and advice remain clear:

Go with the flow, and baby, just let it be.

Bebe seems ready for a leap of faith, starting with a much-needed change of environment. She’s hitchhiking with two garbage bags full of belongings and wearing a pair of bedazzled, wannabe Rockstar boots while singing about her fears.

Then Bebe meets a stranger who drives her to a podunk town, and while there, she begins working as a waitress at a diner. She is resetting her life and beginning to reinvent herself. Her progress seems slow at first, and she looks frustrated, but she never stops dreaming of better days.

So, does she make it? Does she accomplish her goals? We don’t know. But maybe that’s not the point of the song.

Sometimes when we must start over from scratch, we look forward to the little things because every little movement we make in the right direction feels like a tiny victory worth celebrating. Sometimes, the small victories are just as important as the big ones.

“What if this is it, what if it’s meant to be…?”

Country singers Kane Brown and Lauren Alaina sing a song titled “What Ifs” with lyrics that probably resonate well with every worry wart’s romantic soul. The song is extra lovesick, but unlike the last song, it’s not about taking action; it’s about procrastination and worry. It’s about someone being held captive by their fears, wasting time, and not making a decision. 

“What If” is a song that not only offers the listener something positive to look forward to in a relationship but also plenty of reasons to worry.

In the lyrics, the singer addresses many of the concerns people have BEFORE they ever decide to pursue a new relationship, such as falling out of love, breaking up, and then starting over from scratch. All of which are valid concerns to have in a relationship, but not until AFTER there’s a problem.

Again, I might sound like a broken record, but there’s no benefit to worrying about what might happen because excessive worrying only leads to more problems.

Have you heard about the Universal Law of Attraction?

There are millions of “what ifs” that could happen, and some that do, but we shouldn’t let our worries hinder our adventures in life.

Also, we shouldn’t become conditioned by our pasts. We need to try new things and see how everything plays out. Because when we try to control our lives through worry, either one of two things will happen. Either we end up developing unrealistic expectations for the people and situations in our lives, or we waste our time on something that doesn’t end up happening at all.

Go with the flow and let what’s meant to be—be.

“I still believe…some things are just meant to be.”

Now, here’s a little different scenario.

In a song titled “100 in a 55” by the rock band Pop Evil, the beginning lyrics read:

“Turn back on the broken hearted
Some things are just meant to be
I still believe that we got a chance
I still believe that we got a chance to be”

But the lyrics aren’t talking about trying to start a new relationship or rekindle an old romance. In this song, the singer admits his willingness to sacrifice his relationship to pursue his rock-n-roll dreams. He hopes his partner will wait for him, of course, but we can all tell where his heart is just by listening to the rest of the song.

When he sings, “some things are just meant to be,”  he’s talking about making it in the music industry, with or without support from his partner. He’s made his decision, and he chooses to give priority to his career.

This brings me to my next observation.

The singer admits that trying to please his partner and pursue his dreams is stressing him out and that he’s self-medicating with alcohol. He’s running on empty, and all the chaos is eating him alive.

So, what is his solution? Drink more. Go faster. Work harder. But everyone knows that still doesn’t guarantee success. Right?

Listen, I love this song, but the lyrics sound like a coke-head’s anthem and a pot-head’s dream. This guy is self-sabotaging. He’s allowing a substance to dictate how he experiences life, and there’s no balance between his work and play.

But what’s the benefit of him jeopardizing his relationship to pursue his dreams if he can’t stay sober long enough to remember the adventure?

Also, he’s clearly in a relationship that seems one-sided and unsupportive. Yet, somehow, he still seems to think he can prove himself to his partner by achieving some his career goals.

Nope—that’s not how life works.

People change. Circumstances change. And some things never change, even when we think they should.

“I’m starting to see, maybe we’re not meant to be…”

At the beginning of the song “Not Meant to Be” by alternative rock band Theory of a Deadman, the video shows two people fighting, then glass breaks and a hot chick drives away angrily. It’s a perfect rendition of a couples’ fight, but then something beautiful happens. 

“But I’m caught between what you wanted from me
And knowing if I give that to ya I might just disappear…”

Suddenly, the guy grows a pair and realizes that he doesn’t have to change who he is for anybody. He doesn’t have to lose his identity to please the chick and that maybe they’re not meant to be together.

“It’s like one step forward and two steps back
No matter what I do you’re always mad, and I, I can’t change your mind
It’s like trying to turn around on a one-way street
I can’t give you what you want and it’s killing me
And I, I’m starting to see
Maybe we’re not meant to be…”

At first, it seems like he wants to keep the girl because the video starts playing backward. But then, once again, he realizes how much stress the relationship is causing him, and his eyes reopen.

“There’s still time to turn this around
Should we be building this up instead of tearing it down?
But I keep thinking maybe it’s too late…”

So what will he do? Will he continue trying to please her? Will he lose his sense of self-identity and try to morph into the perfect boyfriend that she wants him to be?

We don’t know for sure, but let’s hope he’s learned his lesson.

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Drunk and Dis—Order Me Some Chicken Nuggets

Uber Driver Stories: Social Life on a Budget in College

As a late-night Lyft and Uber driver, I’ve heard many stories from college students about how to afford a decent social life while living on a budget. Mostly because my passengers like to get drunk and tell me their entire life stories, but also because it’s my job to listen, even to the stuff that’s not being said.

Venmo and Walking ATM Machines

One thing I’ve learned as an Uber driver is that most college students aren’t embarrassed about borrowing money or talking about how they get their extra spending money. Some students have full or part-time jobs while others admit to relying on monthly contributions made by their family to a prepaid account, such as PayPal or Venmo.

Here’s an example of one conversation:

“Shit! Is there a cover charge? I didn’t bring any cash with me.”

“That’s fine. I’ll cover you. Just buy me a couple drinks.”

“Wait! I don’t have any cash either. Should we run back to the apartment?”

“No, it’s fine. I can cover you, too. Just Venmo me.”

The word Venmo becomes a verb when students start talking about who still owes them money for last week’s food, cover charge, drinks, or an Uber ride home. And I hear this type of dialogue almost every night. Sometimes the conversation involves just a few people, but more often, there’s a group of six or more people trying to negotiate their debts with one student who’s acting like a credit counselor.

That’s right parents reading this post. There’s usually one passenger in the group who ends up financing the entire night out. And more often than not, it’s usually the student whose parents give them money, rather than someone who works for it.

Shady Late-Night Gigs and Side Hustles

But what happens when a student runs out of money? This next part may come as a shock to parents reading this but many college students find side gigs to help earn extra spending money.

For instance, I’ve heard students brag to their friends about gambling, dancing at a strip club, donating blood or plasma, doing hair, and even selling weed or cocaine for extra spending money. And it’s not just the business students who like practicing their entrepreneurial skills.

>>Click here to read Braxton’s story<<

College Pregaming with Weed and Whiskey

I don’t know about bars in other towns, but the bars in my town are open every day of the week. Monday and Tuesday are trivia nights. Wednesday is Greek life, or family night, so all the fraternities and sororities meet up on campus. Thursday is thirsty-Thursday, so the drinks are cheaper—often $1 for a pitcher, and then there’s the weekend.

Some students make bar-hopping a weekly marathon, while others can’t afford more than a quick sprint. But every student knows where to find cheap drink specials.

But since most college students can’t afford to go to a bar every night of the week, they often find other ways to party when family isn’t around to buy them drinks. Sometimes college students save by pooling their money together to buy a keg, and throw a private party, or to buy smaller bottles of liquor to keep at their apartments. Then they pregame with a few beers, or shots, or by smoking a few bowls before going somewhere the drinks are super expensive. So it’s not uncommon for passengers to get into my van already smelling like weed and whiskey. Some even try to bring alcohol with them for the trip to the bar.

Uber Driver vs. The Party Bus

Every Uber driver knows how expensive it is for passengers to request a ride every night. But so do the private limousine companies around town, who have figured out how to cash in on the rideshare expense. Especially when large groups want to bar-hop or hit the strip club together.

In my town, some larger groups of students prefer to ride a dedicated “Party Bus” to and from their social events. Each school bus holds 48 students, so the company banks around $300 per bus, each night, for about a twenty minute round trip.

For $3.00, each student can ride a large white school bus to the downtown strip. Then, once the bars close, the bus drives the students back to campus, which is only about two miles from downtown.

Sometimes the same students ride both ways, but there are others who decide to test the laws of gravity and try to walk home—drunk. So I’ve received many late-night ride requests from college students who have either missed the bus to go back home, or think they’re sober enough to walk home until they actually try.

Last year, I even received a call from a student who face-planted on a dance floor, broke his nose, and then tried to walk himself to the hospital because he didn’t want to pay for an ambulance. As his Uber driver both ways, I got to hear the whole story.

Drunk and Dis—Order Me Some Chicken Nuggets

Have you ever went to a restaurant or through a drive-thru with a bunch of drunk people? Well, I have—many times—and it’s always a strange adventure. Because most of the drunk people I meet during my late-night shift don’t realize how drunk they really are until they start riding in a car.

Drunk college students are no different than adult drunks. They are loud, belligerent, argumentative, and indecisive, especially when it’s time to leave the bar. go home, to a store, or hit a drive-thru on the way to an after-party.

But broke and drunk college students are great problems solvers. Some schedule their Uber driver to pick them up at a certain time before they get too drunk to use the app. Others learn to leave the bar early to miss the rush, and then ask me to drive them to a store to pick up more alcohol before shutdown time.

The biggest problem I’ve had is taking drunk college students through a drive-thru for fast food. Nobody ever seems to know what they want, even though they’ve had all night to decide. Most end up splitting a 20-pack of chicken nuggets and then pass out on a friend’s couch with their faces covered in BBQ sauce.

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