Inside D.C. entertainment

Archive for July 2011

D.C. 'Watch the Throne' tour date changed

August 3, 2011 - 09:30 AM
Jay-Z and Kanye West at last year's Summer Jam in NYC. (AP photo)

You have a little bit more time to save up for your show outfit: The local date for the Jay-Z/Kanye West 'Watch the Throne' tour has been pushed back by about a month. The hip-hop stars were originally scheduled to hit the Verizon Center on September 29; the new date for the show, which is promoting the rappers' joint Watch the Throne album, is November 3.

The public ticket sale begins this Monday, August 8, at 10 a.m., through Ticketmaster.

Original post: Lil Wayne and Rick Ross gave a joint show in D.C. earlier this month, and now the other two biggest names in hip-hop are coming to town for a joint performance as well: Jay-Z and Kanye West will give a show at the Verizon Center on September 29.

The date is part of their Watch the Throne tour, which will promote their long-awaited joint album of the same name. Watch the Throne is set to drop on August 12. Two tracks from the project have been leaked/released so far, "H.A.M" and "Otis." Both have received mixed reviews.

Pre-sale starts this Thursday, July 28 at 10 a.m. RSVP here to receive the pre-sale password on Wednesday. Regular ticket sales start Monday, August 8th at 10 a.m.

To get in the mood for the concert and the album, check out this Watch the Throne mini-documentary, where you'll see a little bit of the duo's creative process, and a lot of West giving Jay-Z strange, rare birthday gifts.

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Treece of Syntax on opening up for Nas tonight

July 29, 2011 - 02:28 PM
Treece is performing at Icons tonight. Nas is hosting. (photo courtesy of the artist)

Yesterday, we marveled at a Washington Post report that Nas is going to be in Fairfax, Va., tonight, at Icons. Also marveling? Northern Virginia rapper Treece, of Syntax, who will enjoy the honor of opening up for the legendary MC.

(Nas' appearance is billed as a "hosting," not an actual performance, but we have a feeling he's going to jump on the mic for a sec).

Treece, (currently the only member of the group who performs live) formed Syntax in the early '00s, with friends M.C. and Newman III, while the three were in junior high in Fairfax. He says Syntax was actually the first live act to perform at Icons.

"The first gig at Icons was last June -- June 2010 -- and that was the first time we had performed at a venue like that, and also the first live music Icons had ever had there," he says.

Since that time, the group (set to release the album Lucid Dreams this year)  has sort of become an opening act of choice at the sports bar/restaurant. "They brought in Cannabis, a pretty popular rapper in the late '90s, last July, and that was our first big opportunity to open for a major name," says Treece (AKA Patrick Laiti). "It's just kind of been a building process from there. They had Wale in February, and we opened for him, and Jeremih in May, and we opened for him.

"Icons is doing a great job with these shows," he continues. "I'm glad we got in early, and helped get the ball rolling with the hip-hop shows and have maintained a relationship with them."

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Wale performs show to increase HIV/AIDS awareness in Africa

July 29, 2011 - 12:30 PM

Maryland rapper Wale will probably always be closely associated with the DMV, but fans of the MC know he also proudly reps for Nigeria, the country both of his parents hail from. Remember the Afro-beat flecked track "My Sweetie," which recalled the Nigerian house parties of his youth? How about when he sent all of those Nike Foamposites to kids in Ondo State?

Tomorrow, Wale joins forces with a number of young African musicians for the African Connection Relief Event (A.C.R.E.), a benefit concert at the Patriot Center.

He'll be appearing with singer/songwriter TuFace Idibia, who is already immensely popular in his home country of Nigeria, and is gaining international attention, thanks to his recent BET Award win in the "Best International Act" category. M.I., Banky W, Wizkid, Naeto C, and many others will also perform to raise money for Artists for Charity (AFC), an organization started in East Africa that "strives to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS throughout the continent." The evening will be hosted by the "African King of Comedy" Michael Blackston (yes, the dude from Next Friday),

The show starts at 7:30 p.m., Tickets ($38-109) are still available at

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Wait, Nas is going to be where?

July 28, 2011 - 12:30 PM
Nasty Nas is in your AREA tomorrow, Fairfax!

The year-old Icons sports bar in Fairfax is slowly establishing itself as a spot where one can catch a good show, as well as a good game. Rapper Wale has performed there, as has R&B singer Jeremih. But now the venue has managed to book legendary Queens rapper Nas, the Washington Post's "The State of NoVa" blog reports. How in the hell did they pull that one off?

Well, for starters, he's hosting a party at Icons tomorrow night, and won't actually be performing, venue owner John Moore told the Post's Tom Jackman. But Moore added that just having the star show up will help the bar establish itself "outside of being a sports bar.”

Jackman writes that "'Nas at Icons Sports Lounge' has the same ring as 'Usher at Woodbridge Middle School,' but superstar musicians show up at schools all the time (Taylor Swift at Bishop Ireton and Trey Songz at Frederick Douglass High School are two local examples). So maybe it's more like...Jay-Z at the Dumfries Cracker Barrel? Actually, someone should try to make that happen. Details on the Nas party are here.

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Authors of 'The Beat' and Anacostia Gallery present Go-Go Under the Stars

July 27, 2011 - 11:00 AM

Wilmer's Park meets Hirshhorn After Hours this Sunday, July 31, for Go-Go Under the Stars, which will feature members of EU, Rare Essence, and Chuck Brown's band giving a show at the Anacostia Art Gallery & Boutique.

Sugar Bear, Donnell Floyd, Sweet Cherie, Go-Go Mickey and a slew of other go-go all-stars will perform at the show, sponsored by the Gallery and the authors of The Beat! Go-Go Music from Washington, D.C., the written history of the genre from EU manager and activist Charles Stephenson and George Washington Univesity professor Kip Lornell.

All proceeds benefit "Teach the Beat" a joint effort between the book's authors and the local non-profit Teaching for Change to develop interactive lesson units that can be used with The Beat in D.C. schools. 

The Anacostia Art Gallery & Boutique is at 2806 Bruce Place, SE; Tickets are $25 and are available at the door.

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TBD setlist: Big Boi at the Park

July 27, 2011 - 10:00 AM

Big Boi gave a show at Park at Fourteenth on Monday night—the last date on a 10-city mini-tour meant to promote the whiskey Crown Royal Black and the rapper's new position as spokesperson for the spirit. No matter what one thinks of rappers working with liquor companies, the partnership definitely marks a shift in the relationship between the hip-hop community and "premium" liquor brands (i.e. not malt liquor purveyors). Remember back in 2006 when Jay-Z called for a boycott of Cristal because the French champagne house turned its nose up at hip-hop's informal endorsements of its product?

Big Boi said in a quick after-show interview that teaming up with the company was "monumental."

"It’s really good -- I've been familiar with the brand since I was a kid, when my granddaddy would drink it and we used to keep change in the little purple bags," he says. "One of the main things that brought me to the whole deal was I got to redesign the bag. For 105 years -- that’s over a century -- it’s been the same."

Crown Royal bags have long been repurposed as change purses and stash sacks for certain illicit herbal substances. Big Boi is confident the black Crown Royal pouch he designed will similarly be embraced for both its form and function.

"Oh yeah yeah yeah, you can put a little bit of something in there, you can put a little bit of everything in there," he said, cracking up. 

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New releases: Kelly Rowland, Brandy and Ray J, Little Dragon

July 26, 2011 - 11:30 AM
Kelly Rowland, singing. (AP Photo)

New music to buy/stream/steal

Kelly Rowland, Here I Am

The Internet says: "In case you have any trouble keeping your ex-Destiny’s Child members straight, Kelly Rowland is the one who’s not Beyoncé, and who doesn’t sing gospel. You will really have no problem confusing her with the righteously inclined Michelle Williams after hearing Rowland’s determinedly raunchy new album, “Here I Am.” Its nearly nonstop admonitions to get down and dirty make even modern-day Beyoncé sound like Cece Winans." (TheWrap)

Watch: "Motivation," the explicit version! Ooooh!

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Arlington joke rapper Remy Munasafi rhymes about the debt ceiling

July 26, 2011 - 09:45 AM
Remy, rapping about debt and stuff. (video still)

The latest in a series of collaborations between the libertarian publication Reason and Arlington comedian Remy Munasifi: A rap about raising the debt ceiling.

Munasifi is the joke rapper behind "Arlington: The Rap" which explores the gangster pedigree of Clarendon, and "Metro Song," a piece about how riding the Metro can sometimes suck. Munasifi's has put together two other song/video packages with Reason, including a little ditty about being groped by TSA agents.

On "Raise the Debt Ceilling," Munasifi's rap skills are put to the test as he is forced to work "stimulus," "Medicare," "unsustainable" and "quantitative statutory budget restraints" into his rhymes.

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This week's concerts: Big Boi, Vans Warped Tour, Keith Urban

July 25, 2011 - 01:30 PM
Big Boi is at the Park at Fourteenth tonight. (AP photo)


Big Boi at the Park at Fourteenth

Hip-hop artists have done a lot of rapping about Crown Royal, but Big Boi has taken things a step further: He's now the official spokesperson for the Crown Royal Black. He even designed his own version of the iconic CR velvet pouch. Big Boi (best known as one-half of the almighty duo Outkast), is at the Park at Fourteenth tonight where he'll rap about Atlanta and talk about Canadian whiskey. Doors open at 7 p.m., but if you can't make it to the Park tonight, you can catch a live stream of the show on beginning at 9:30 p.m.


The Vans Warped Tour at Merriweather Post Pavilion

If your idea of "punk rock" involves skater shoes and piercings rather than  Chucks and plaid, you're going to want to come out and commune with your people on Tuesday, while listening to the commercial pop punk sounds of Less than Jake, Relient K, Gym Class Heroes, and many, many others. $36, 11 a.m. gates.


Keith Urban at the Verizon Center

Erik Maza over at the Baltimore Sun's "Midnight Sun" blog recently talked to Urban about losing 50(!) guitars in the 2010 Nashville floods. Still, even without his faithful instruments, Nicole Kidman's hubby managed to complete Get Closer, the new album he'll be trying out on the crowd on Thursday. $25-65, 7:30 p.m.

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Mary J. Blige to give first Fillmore Silver Spring performance

July 22, 2011 - 07:15 AM
Mary J. Blige opens the Fillmore Silver Spring on Sept. 15. (AP Photo)

Update, 10:15 a.m.: The Fillmore Silver Spring announced its September/October show schedule on its website at 10 a.m. The line-up is listed below. 

After a long, strange, painful gestation, the Fillmore Silver Spring will open on Sept. 15, with a show from Mary J. Blige, the Washington Post reports.

News of shows planned for the 2,000-capacity venue in downtown Silver Spring began leaking yesterday, when Pollstar updated its Fillmore Silver Spring page with a Sept. 18 Black Star show and an Oct. 15 Yngwie Malmsteen concert.

The Live Nation-run venue announced shows from Blondie, Primus, and Cheap Trick on its website this morning.

The Fillmore will open its doors to the public on Sept. 13, giving curious fans an early look at the venue. Tickets for all scheduled shows go on sale July 29 at 10 a.m.

The Fillmore's schedule, so far:

Mary J. Blige on Sept. 15

A Brightest Young Things-sponsored Underground Rebel Bingo Party on Sept. 19

Blondie on Sept. 10

Bring Me the Horizon on Sept. 23

Primus on Sept. 24

Cheap Trick on Sept. 27

Clayton Anderson on Sept. 28

Pretty Lights on Sept. 29

The Psychedelic Furs and Tom Tom Club on Sept. 30

Blue October on Oct. 14

Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth and Leslie West for the 3 Guitar Heroes show on Oct. 18

Comedian Lewis Black on Oct. 23

Chromeo on Oct. 29

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Tribe doc tests limits of art house theater's speakers

July 21, 2011 - 03:00 PM
Phife and Jarobi, rocking a show in Beats, Rhymes & Life. (publicity still)

The current offerings at Loews Shirlington, Arlington's beloved art house theater, include Woody Allen's high-class rom-com Midnight in Paris, the Gray Lady doc Page One: Inside the New York Times, and the amazingly well-done Beats, Rhymes & Life, which documents of the ups and downs of legendary Queens hip-hop quartet A Tribe Called Quest. BR&L tells the Tribe's story through interviews and is filled with the group's music.

So, the Tribe movie, unlike Midnight in Paris, makes the theater's speakers shake. At showings this week, Tribe's hits tested the limits of the sound system in Theater 1; as enjoyable as the movie was, it was like listening to a great song blaring through a busted car speaker. One movie-goer remarked of the low-quality sound, "Damn, glad we didn't see, like, Transformers 3 here."

I asked a few discerning hip-hop listeners if they'd experienced similar problems at other area theaters, but, by all accounts, the movie sounded great at the Magic Johnson Theater at the BLVD in Largo, Loews Georgetown, and downtown's Landmark E Street Cinema. It even sounded fine at Shirlington during opening weekend. So what gives? Did the Tribe doc blow a speaker at Shirlington? Did some enthusiastic person just crank up the volume in the theater, distorting the sound?

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Tonight: School of Rock plays a benefit show

July 21, 2011 - 01:45 PM
School of Rock youngsters rockin'.

The School of Rock (which is a legit thing, not just a movie where Jack Black acts silly and plays guitar), brings its Rock the House tour to the area tonight.

The music school (which has four area locations) has a touring all-star group, which includes young people from Baltimore, Northern Virginia and D.C., and they're playing at the Reston Town Center to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington. It's a free show, but donations will be accepted on-site. And, yes, it will be hot, but it's hot EVERYWHERE today.

The show starts at 6:30; full release below.

Thursday, July 21 2011
6:30pm - 10:00pm

School of Rock All Stars 'Rock the House' Tour benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington D.C.

Celebrate 50 years of Rock & Roll at the School of Rock’s All Stars Rock the House Tour. Concert benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities Greater Washington DC. The All Stars group includes 4 musicians from Northern Virginia and DC. Free concert under the stars. Bring your lawn chair. Face painting for kids. Enjoy the concert under the stars and help children heal faster and better. FREE, but donations to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington D.C. gratefully accepted. Information at or 703.698.7080.

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New releases: Theophilus London, Tim Robbins, They Might Be Giants

July 19, 2011 - 01:30 PM
First name Theophilus, Last name London.

Theophilus London, Timez Are Weird These Days

The Internet says: "If you made a hipster-rap bonus baby in a laboratory, you couldn't do much better than Theophilus London. The 23-year-old Trinidad- born Brooklyn MC's neo-retro hip-hop mashes up TV on the Radio's vocal cadences, old-school break-dance beats and the forlorn melodic tug of a Smiths fan (he dropped This Charming Mixtape in 2009)." (Rolling Stone)

Watch: The vid for "Last Name London," from the new album.

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Listen to Kokayi while laughing at Kevin Hart

July 19, 2011 - 11:30 AM
This is Kokayi, not Kevin Hart. (Photo courtesy QN5)

Kevin Hart, the Philadelphia comedian who has starred in these Ford Explorer commercials, these fine movies, and this YouTube video where he and Trey Songz watch a model's hair catch fire, has a new stand-up film coming out in September. And D.C.-based singer/MC/producer Kokayi has  placed FIVE of his tracks in the movie.

The music included is from the Grammy-nominated artist's most recent albums, Mass Instructions and Robots and Dinosaurs; Hart's comedy film, Laugh at my Pain, is a compilation of footage from his 2-day engagement at the Nokia Theatre in L.A., as well as funnies from a trip to his hometown of Philadelphia, according to a press release.

"I was asked to participate by Levels Music Group out of L.A., they do work on [America's Best Dance Crew] and American Idol," Kokayi writes in an e-mail. "I was contacted by them a few years ago about some work, but it never panned out. Then they hit me about this opportunity and I gladly accepted"

Initially, Levels wanted to place the track "Roxtar," from Robots & Dinosaurs, but then it "turned into a request for a grip of material," Kokayi writes. "They cut the songs to the film and Kevin's folks were happy. I'm very thankful for the opportunity and glad that the songs are in."

Laugh at My Pain opens at AMC Theaters nationwide on September 9; check out the trailer below.

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This week's concerts: Phil Ade, Cibo Matto, Lucinda Williams

July 18, 2011 - 03:15 PM
Maryland's own Phil Ade releases new album, gives U-Hall show this week.

Phil Adé, Wednesday at U Street Music Hall

Maryland rapper Phil Adé made an undeniable splash with the '09 mixtape Starting on JV, and established himself as a real hip-hop force with last year's follow-up, The Letterman. Tomorrow, he will take rappers to school yet again with the release of his new album A Different World, (the title of which we assume is inspired by, you know, A Different World).  Adé toasts the new project with a show at U Street Music Hall on Wednesday night. 7:45 p.m. $15.

Cibo Matto, Tuesday at Rock & Roll Hotel

Of course there is an upscale "modern Italian steakhouse" called Cibo Matto. Of course. But, to us, Cibo Matto will always be the wonderfully strange '90s band founded by Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori and focused on songs about food. The group's "Yeah Basically" reunion tour stops at the RNR Hotel at 8 p.m. $20.

Also this week:

Lucinda Williams (with Amos Lee) at Wolf Trap on Tuesday

Fort Reno shows on Monday and Thursday

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday

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Eric Astor and Manish Naik of Furnace MFG explain record pressing

July 18, 2011 - 10:30 AM

If you buy vinyl, there's a good chance you've enjoyed the handiwork of the Fairfax, Va.-headquartered record pressing company Furnace MFG. The vinyl manufacturer has pressed for the likes of Metallica, the Beastie Boys, Neil Young, and a slew of independent artists.

Unlike the cut-and-dry, completely mechanized way in which CDs are made and duplicated, pressing vinyl is craft. "It's still magic to me," says Eric Astor, president and CEO of the 15-year-old company.

It is definitely a magical process, but Astor and Furnace COO Manish Naik have demystified it a bit, with a detailed explanation (with pictures) of how, exactly, their record pressing process works, from start to finish.

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Weekend concerts: Miranda Lambert, Men of Soul, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross

July 15, 2011 - 12:25 PM
I wanna see Miranda without Blake 'bout as much as I want to see Black without Miranda.


Miranda Lambert at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Ms. Lambert is about to learn how marrying a fellow super-famous musician can totally mess up your live show mojo. 

Once upon a time (circa 2003) we were all perfectly satisfied to see Jay-Z or Beyoncé in concert, all by themselves, right? But once they got married, any show from one that didn't feature a "surprise" appearance from the other became a disappointment. Ditto Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, and, more recently, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. So, even though Lambert has plenty of wonderfully plucky country songs to sing at Merriweather on Friday night, fans might be a bit distracted, as they hold their collective breath waiting for Lambert's new husband, Blake Shelton, to pop on stage and sing a few bars from "Honey Bee." 6:30 p.m. $40-55.

Men of Soul at Constitution Hall

Last week's Isley Brothers concert at Constitution Hall was, sadly, canceled. But soul fans get another shot at an old school DAR show tonight, as Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, Freddie Jackson, Howard Hewett, and other notable artists featured on the Time Life Body + Soul  10-disc slow jams set step up in the building. 8 p.m. $80-$135.


Lil Wayne and Rick Ross at Jiffy Lube Live

OK, wait a minute: So, the two biggest hip-hop stars on the planet are, at the moment, a little tattooed dude who can't stay out of jail and a big man who likes to rhyme about his drug-dealing past, his fat guy sex appeal, and smoking weed? DÉJÀ VU! Well, kind of. Weezy and Rozay take over the Lube, with help from Keri Hilson, Lloyd, and Far East Movement. 7 p.m. $35.75-$175.75.

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'Beats, Rhymes & Life' finally comes to D.C. tomorrow

July 14, 2011 - 01:30 PM
Phife and Jarobi, rocking a show in Beats, Rhymes & Life. (publicity still)

Forget Harry Potter: Tomorrow the critically acclaimed documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life, which tells the story of the seminal '90s hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, finally opens in area theaters. You can catch it at Landmark E Street Cinema and Loews Georgetown in D.C., and Loews Shirlington in Arlington, Va.

Directed by actor Michael Rappaport, the film is a history of the group and its members, Q-Tip, Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and sometime D.C. resident Jarobi. The doc has been controversial — Q-Tip has blasted both the project and Rapaport saying the director honored none of the band's requests in making the film. Phife and Rapaport recently sat down with WPGC morning show host Big Tigger on his Direct Access video show to discuss the drama surrounding the doc.

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The end of the line for John Lodi's Clinton-era postcards

July 12, 2011 - 02:46 PM

When Nancy Lim's newsstand in Rosslyn closed at the end of June, it marked the end of an era for office workers who stopped in there for drinks and snacks (but not newspapers or magazines, which the newsstand did not sell).

It was also, most likely, their last opportunity to buy a postcard with a Boris Yeltsin joke on it.

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WPGC personality Rane discusses her fight for equal pay

July 12, 2011 - 02:30 PM
Rane Sykes with her WPGC Home Team co-host DJ Flexx (Photo courtesy of Rane Sykes)

Ranelle Sykes, better known as WPGC radio personality Rane, regularly interviews celebrities as part of her job, and lately she says she has new understanding of the public scrutiny they face.

"I'm used to being in the public eye, but [for radio hosts] it's not about you. Now, I see how they feel," says the Home Team host, who has been with the station for nearly 11 years.

Sykes has received new attention lately for filing a wage discrimination suit against WPGC, the Lanham, Md.-based urban format radio station that employs her. Sykes alleges that, under Maryland's equal pay act, she should be making a salary comparable to that of her co-host, DJ Flexx. (CBS Radio, WPGC's parent company, is listed as the defendant in her filing.)

Sykes, who initially filed her suit in P.G. County Circuit Court earlier this summer, submitted an amended filing on July 6. She is also awaiting a determination from an EEOC complaint she filed earlier this year.

Last spring, during a period of contract negotiation, Skyes first learned that that her co-host, DJ Flexx, was making significantly more money, she says. Skyes alleges that when she asked for a pay bump, CBS Radio said she could have one only if Flexx voluntarily took a pay cut.

"He was distraught, I was distraught, it was uncomfortable, it was awkward," she says. "I said, 'Flexx, you have a wife, a daughter in college, it's not your job to determine my salary — you don’t sign my checks."

Skyes didn't sign a contract last year, and hasn't been under contract with the station since, she says.

"It's strange how it happened, but after that situation, I was obviously aware that I didn't make as much money as he did," she says.

"[The station] has been very adamant, very clear all along that they wanted us both on the show," she continues. "They never wanted one of us without the other, they say that we 'balance each other out.' Well, why aren't our paychecks balanced?"

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