Best hip hop albums of all time: classic hip-hop albums revealed

It ‘s the perfect time to celebrate the best hip hop albums and the best rap albums of all time. survive year hip hop the distinguished old long time of 45. It began with a birthday party in the diversion room of an apartment build, 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, in the west Bronx, New York City, hosted by Clive Campbell, besides known as DJ Kool Herc. today it ‘s home to some of the most critical, culturally relevant music in the global. UPDATE: It may not have reached our best rap albums list, but Jay-Z ‘s The Blueprint is distillery a fantastic record, thanks to a then nameless Kanye West helping out on production duties. The album is now 20 years old, having been released on a day remembered for an wholly different reason, September 11, 2001. If you are a fan of Jay-Z then give his superior record, reasonable doubt, an upvote. And what better way to celebrate this most colorful, confrontational and controversial of musical artwork forms than by rounding up the authoritative 35 greatest hip hop albums of all time.

You can read our in-depth selections below. But, after much vote, Nas – Illmatic is your acme foot, and Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang ( 36 Chambers ) comes in a cheeseparing 2nd. vote for your favorite. And you can submit unmissables we may have missed below .

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Voted Your No1Voted Your No1 Nas – Illmatic Nasir Jones made this debut album at the age of 20, already armed with the calm discernment and been-there-done-that attitude of a a lot older ghetto veteran, though sometimes his inner fledgling youth shows itself .View now on Amazon

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Best hip hop albums

Best hip hop albums

1. Nas – Illmatic

View at Amazon Year : 1994
Despite being home to groups like Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest, New York appeared distinctly second best to the sounds emanating from California in 1994. All that changed with the release of Nasir Jones ’ s debut album, the iconic Illmatic. With output duties served by DJ Premier and Large Professor, Nas ’ randomness rhymes reflected upon ghetto biography in the Big Apple. Raw, potent and unforgettable, Illmatic opened the doors for a new coevals of MCs to burst through. Speaking of which…
Key track: NY State of Mind

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Best hip hop albums

2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

£17.99Buy now from Amazon Kendrick Lamar is up there with the greatest rappers of all prison term. The speed he can spout his lyrics is alone, as is the clearness with which you hear them. There ’ mho a rhythm in his rhyme that has been missing in pelvis hop ’ s latter years. here, his third album, he perfects perfection. The likes of King Kunta are push pleasers, a raging funk masterclass named after the main fictional character in Roots. He ’ second angry and he has every right to be. then there ’ s the poetic For Free ? that sounds like nothing else. There ’ randomness chaos throughout, punctuated by moments of beauty and Thundercat ’ s ever-present bass. But you never know what you are going to get with each racetrack which is very well by us.

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Best hip hop albums

3. Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

View at Amazon Year: 1993
Released on the like day as Midnight Marauders, the Wu-Tang Clan ’ s debut album was arguably the most crucial hip hop album of the Nineties. It not only introduced the world to a collection of colorful characters, but redefined the sonic speech of hip hop. RZA ’ second production was sparse, pieced together with esoteric samples and dialogue from kung fu movies, while the raps from Method Man, Ol Dirty Bastard, GZA, Chef Raekwon, Ghostface Killah et aluminum were incendiary.
Key track: Protect Ya Neck

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Best hip hop albums

4. Notorious BIG – Ready To Die

View at Amazon Year: 1994
It ’ s a pity that today The Notorious B.I.G. is known as much for his character in the unfortunate East Coast/West Coast rap wars of the mid-Nineties. He was one of the greatest rappers of all time. A vital release in New York ’ south move towards hardcore gangsta rap, Biggie ’ s storytelling skills are to the bow on tracks like Juicy, Gim me The Loot and Things Done Changed. The mind boggles as to what Biggie could have achieved if he wasn ’ t mindlessly lost in 1997. Key track: Juicy

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Best hip hop albums

5. Madvillain – Madvillainy

View at Amazon Year: 2004 Underground pelvis hop was in uncivil health at the call on of the millennium. The likes of Cannibal Ox, Quasimoto, Aesop Rock and co were producing imaginative music that was raw, dry and futuristic. The collaboration between MF Doom ( RIP ) and Madlib was surely in the lapp vein. A hypnotic take on hip hop it melded the couple ’ s distinctive talents – Doom ’ s cerebral raps and Madlib ’ s improper beat – into something both charming and mystic. Key track: America ’ s Most deaden

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Best hip hop albums

6. Eminem – The Marshal Mathers LP

View at Amazon Year: 2000 The impression of a credible white knocker was a joke for eons – not helped by Vanilla Ice. All that changed with Eminem. A confrontational, provocative and sardonic wordsmith – and another protégé of Dr. Dre – he released three authoritative albums on the spin in the late-Nineties and early-Noughties. It was the in-between release – The Marshal Mathers LP – that captured the witty, impertinent and disaffected spirit best. Key track: The Real Slim Shady

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Best hip hop albums

7. Dr Dre – The Chronic

View at Amazon Year: 1992
not to be outdone by his former protégé Ice Cube, Dr. Dre didn ’ t take farseeing to release another landmark album by an N.W.A. alumni. not only was The Chronic acclaimed immediately, it ushered in a modern sound within pelvis hop – G-funk. Instantly recognizable ascribable to the habit of synthesisers and an across-the-board bass, it made a solo star of Dre, and introduced his latest rap ward to the worldly concern : Snoop Doggy Dogg.
Key track: Nuthin ’ but a ‘ G ’ Thang

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Best hip hop albums

8. 2Pac – All Eyez On Me

View at Amazon Year: 1996
Hip hop double albums aren ’ t generally worth the entrance fee. All Eyez On Me changed all that. After a spell inside, 2Pac was focused and angry ahead of his magnum musical composition. This attitude was channelled into 27 tracks of sparkling virtuosity. The hood life with which he had previously flirted with is wholeheartedly embraced and the leave is an epic record of G-funk and gangsta rap that managed to take on the mainstream. And win.
Key track: California Love ( Remix )

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Best hip hop albums

9. N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton

View at Amazon Year: 1988 If Public Enemy was pelvis hop ’ randomness militant conscience, NWA ( or Niggaz With Attitudes to give them their correct uncompromising nickname ) were the hood wing. Their debut album was a brazen example of six individuals who didn ’ thymine give a f**k. From the barbarous unfold triptych of songs ( Straight Outta Compton, F**k Tha Police and Gangsta ) to the bang-up Express Yourself this was indeed a exuberant display of street cognition.
Key track: Straight Outta Compton

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Best hip hop albums

10. A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders

View at Amazon Year: 1993
Of all the acts beloved of the blame brotherhood that coalesce around the head-nodding voice of ‘ backpack hip hop ’, A Tribe Called Quest are the most care for. In truth, we could have chosen two other ATCQ albums in this spot – 1991 ’ s The low End Theory is another stone coldness classic – but Midnight Marauders elevated Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and cobalt to fabled condition. Their jazz-rap fusions were nothing new, but this was them working at the top of their game.
Key track: Award Tour

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Best hip hop albums

11. Mobb Deep – The Infamous

£27.50Buy now from Amazon The Infamous is hip-hop by candlelight. It ’ south packed with stripped-bare beats, stark piano, the screeches of the city in the background. Samples are used but muffled as if the album had to be made in shroud. It ’ s gangster knock but run through Queensbridge slang, the closest an album has got to the feeling The Wire gave us when we first watched it. Havoc and Prodigy are two of the greatest rappers, with the likes of Q-Tip and Raekwon coming along for the ride. We dare you to hear first the snare, then the freshwater bass of Shook Ones, Pt.II without getting shivers. Stunning stuff.

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Best hip hop albums

12. Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle

View at Amazon Year: 1993
There must have been something in the air travel in November 1993. Two weeks after ATCQ and the Killer Bees released their era-defining sets, a cocky novice mentored by Dr. Dre released his debut rig. then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle was another landmark record. Coated in G-funk finery, Doggystyle opened up a portal site into a horizontal West Coast world of pot, cheerfulness and unforgettable grooves.
Key track: Gin And Juice

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Best hip hop albums

13. Kanye West – The College Dropout

View at Amazon Year: 2004 today Kanye West is known for his bizarre fame life style arsenic much as his music ( and that still rocks by the way ), but a ten ago, West was a unplayful underground hep hop icon. Having breathed new fire into Jay-Z with his production work on The Blueprint, West ’ s true calling was rapping himself. If there were doubts he could match his Roc-a-Fella employer there were cursorily dispelled with the unblock of The College Dropout. A vibrant album dripping in hooks and brash raps, it set in motion the merry-go-round that West hush expertly deals in to this day. Key track : Through The Wire

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Best hip hop albums

14. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

View at Amazon Year: 1998 After Fugees disbanded in 1997, few could have predicted what was to follow. Granted, it was obvious in Lauryn Hill the trio had a sparkle endowment, but even the most ardent admirers must have been shocked by her first solo album. Mixing classic soul with a fresh R ’ n ’ B and leaning on her hep hop roots, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was another crossover voter achiever.
Key track: Doo Wop ( That Thing )

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Best hip hop albums

15. Eric B & Rakim – Paid In Full

View at Amazon Year: 1987
The first golden age of hip hop was kick-started by the art form ’ mho standout DJ/MC pair, Eric B and Rakim. A master classify in breaks, beats and rhymes, Paid In Full laid down the gauntlet to thousands of aspirant crate labor producers and rappers. Standout tracks include the title track ( soon to be remixed into sonic nirvana by Coldcut ), Eric B Is President and I Know You Got Soul.
Key track: Paid In Full

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Best hip hop albums

16. Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

View at Amazon Year: 1988
If, as Chuck D has repeatedly stated, rap is the black CNN, Public Enemy ’ s second album was their revolutionary state of the nation address. The arrant, eerie music bordered on the nihilist, while its doubtful anyone has used hip hop to shine an unwelcoming light on America ’ s manifold ills in the manner of Chuck D before or since. Don ’ t believe the ballyhoo ? One heed to these rebels without a pause will cause you to reconsider.
Key track: Bring The make noise

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Best hip hop albums

17. Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt

View at Amazon Year: 1996 today, Jay-Z is the biggest active hip hop star. In 1996 he was fair another aspiring knocker who, to use his parlance, had led a difficult knock life on the streets of New York. This hustle was the backbone of his amazing debut set. Featuring the likes of Can ’ thymine Knock The Hustle, Brooklyn ’ sulfur Finest and Dead Presidents II, it was a stunning combination of frontline coverage and honestly internal-combustion engine cool rhymes. A ace had been born. Key track: dead Presidents II

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Best hip hop albums

18. Mos Def – Black On Both Sides

View at Amazon Year: 1999

Thanks to his work with De La Soul and his Black Star collaborative album with Talib Kweli, anticipation on the metro hip hop setting was senior high school ahead of Mos Def ’ south debut solo determine. After the handout of Black on Both Sides, however, it wasn ’ thymine merely the metro that appreciated the charismatic character born Dante Smith ( and who now goes by the diagnose of Yasiin Boy ). A politically aware album, but one that piles on the infectious beats and bubbling rhymes, Black on Both Sides was ratification that Mos Def was one of the most talented stars pushing hip hop forward ahead of the new millennium.
Key track: Ms Fat Booty

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Best hip hop albums

19. 50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’

View at Amazon Year: 2003 Get Rich Or Die Tryin ’ arrived in a blaze of glory in early 2003. thankfully, amid the hype there was a classic album to back up all the verbals. In Da Club was the cosmopolitan bang up that ’ s placid infectious nowadays, but this was just one gamey ( literally ) among a cavalcade of hip hop anthems. What Up Gangsta sets the view – placing Fiddy in the linage of Biggie/Nas/Jigga – while many Men ( Wish Death ) and High All The Time ensure the taut pace is never broken. Key track: In Da Club

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Best hip hop albums

20. Fugees – The Score

View at Amazon Year: 1996 Fugees were ineluctable in 1996. The trio – Wyclef Jean, Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill – had made some waves on the underground with their first album, Blunted On Reality, but with The score everything changed. Hip hop gone pop, without conceding to the mainstream, The Score catapulted Fugees and their conscious songs to stardom. Some complained there were excessively many covers ( Killing Me Softly and No Woman, No Cry among them ), but when they sounded this clean and vital, that was just purist posturing. Key track: Ready Or not

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Best hip hop albums

21. Ice Cube – Death Certificate

View at Amazon Year: 1991
Given the strong personalities at play in N.W.A. it wasn ’ thyroxine storm Ice Cube ’ second departure from the group was acrimonious. He poured his vitriol into his solo releases. This reached an apogee on his second album, Death Certificate. An unapologetic treatise at the state of things at the start of the five de siècle, it was both coruscating and visionary, and not without controversy. The fad surrounding its secrete might have lessened in the intervene years. Its office most surely hasn ’ triiodothyronine.
Key track: No Vaseline

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Best hip hop albums

22. De La Soul – 3 Feet High & Rising

View at Amazon Year: 1989
Despite what the likes of Public Enemy, N.W.A and 2 Live Crew might have suggested otherwise, not everyone involved in hip hop in the late Eighties was angry. De La Soul, alongside the likes of The Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest ( along with others known as the Native Tongues Posse ), were the polar reverse – they were Afrocentric urban hippies pushing a sunshine-soaked vision of pelvis hop named the Daisy Age. Their debut album was a joyous mix of balmy rock samples, hilarious skits and psychedelic rhymes. It ’ second positivist attitude chimed perfectly with the loved-up acid house era in which it was produced.
Key track: Me Myself and I

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Best hip hop albums

23. Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx

£25Buy now from Amazon A concept album that takes Wu-tang alumni Raekwon and Ghostface Killah into Mafiosa territory. only Built For Cuban Linx is a sandbag, cinematic album that is up there with Wu-tang ‘s best work. Although it ’ south rigorously Raekwon ’ sulfur debut, Ghostface is everywhere on this and all the better for it – good listen to Criminology to hear the lyric play at work.

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Best hip hop albums

24. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

View at Amazon Year: 1989
Licensed To Ill might have introduced the world to the Beastie Boys, but following its acquittance the three were routinely dismissed as bratty fraternity rappers. Paul ’ randomness Boutique, released about three years, showed differently, demonstrating that Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA in truth did have the skills to pay the bills. criminally ignored upon turn – credibly because it wasn ’ t Licensed To Ill Part 2 – it is now recognised for what it is : a multi-layered hip hop masterpiece.
Key track: Shake Your Rump

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Best hip hop albums

25. Run DMC – Run DMC

View at Amazon Year: 1984
Yes, The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had taken hip hop into the mainstream, but Jam Master Jay, D.M.C. and Rev Run were the foremost group to by rights legitimise it with the release of bona fide classic albums. Their self-titled longplayer was a confrontational fusillade of minimal electro, crunching beats and hypnotic rhymes, as exemplified by It ’ s Like That, Sucker M.C.s, Rock Box and Hard Times.

Key track: Hard Times

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Best hip hop albums

26. Outkast – Speakerboxx / The Love Below

View at Amazon Year: 2003 OutKast ’ s Speakerboxx/The Love Below is one of the most audacious moments in hep hop ’ second deep history. A double album – in perfume two solo albums by Andre 3000 and Big Boi – it takes in everything from G-funk to pop, Southern soul to blues, electronica to rock. In this sense it ’ s everything the artform of hip hop started out as – a cultural sponge imbibing the best that music has to offer. An in Hey Ya ! They had the kind of global hit that every musician would die for.
Key track: Hey Ya !

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Best hip hop albums

27. Cypress HIll – Cypress Hill

View at Amazon Year: 1991
Alongside De La Soul and Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill were one of the first base hip hop acts to crossover to a predominantly white rock crowd. Given their music was designed to reflect ( and even enhance ) the lax habit of smoking pot this possibly wasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate storm. But Cypress Hill ’ second introduction album is no curious novelty – the music is withdrawn, about as if it ’ second not there, while B Real ’ s imaginative rhymes were at once indecipherable and sardonic. It was a combination that would sell more on 1993 ’ second Black Sunday, but this was the vertex of Cypress Hill ’ s multi-racial creativity.
Key track: How I Could Just Kill A Man

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Best hip hop albums

28. Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele

£6.99Buy now from Amazon After proving to the worldly concern that he was one of the best lyricists and rappers around, thanks to his improbable verses on 36 Chambers, only Built For Cuban Lynx and his debut Iron Man, Ghostface Killah ’ s sophomore attempt is an absolute wonder. Ghostface weaves backbone and candor, stupidity and absurdity into his tracks with still – offering up gold-gilded rap album that even resonates today. merely listed to Malcolm to hear this.

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Best hip hop albums

29. Common – Be

View at Amazon Year: 2005 Throughout the nineties and early noughties Common ploughed a very unique and idiosyncratic wrinkle – that of the thoughtful and conscientious knocker. He hit commercial paydirt on his sixth album, Be. Utilising the production work of Kanye West and underground icon J Dilla, Common created a completely unite piece of exercise on Be. This was the strait of hip hop reflecting upon itself – hence the flashy anchor and soulful tenor of Common ’ s voice. The consequence was brilliant. Key track: GO !

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Best hip hop albums

30. The Pharcyde – Labcabincalifornia

View at Amazon Year: 1995
thankfully, it wasn ’ t all braggadocio in hip hop in the mid-Nineties. Los Angeles four-piece The Pharcyde followed their hypnotic debut, Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde, with another moral in irreverent sonic venture. The jazzy, soporific vibration of Runnin ’ recalled kindred spirits A Tribe Called Quest, while the imaginative Drop ( with an evenly original video recording from Spike Jonze ) displayed a steely experimental edge. The group would fall apart after this dismissal with Fatlip leaving, but this was some depart endowment.
Key track: Runnin ’

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Best hip hop albums

31. Jeru The Damaja – The Sun Rises In The East

£13.68Buy now from Amazon There are few who can beat Jeru The Damaja when it comes to rhyming style. He ’ s clear, concise, his lyrics are flex to a rhythm and enunciated to perfection, sometimes pausing mid sentence to make surely you are listening. That ’ s because he truly wants you to understand what he has to say. If ever there was a lyric that placid resonates, it ’ sulfur this one from D. Original : “ Dirty, because of the skin I ’ megabyte in, the fact I have melanin, mechanically, makes me a criminal ”. And the album is packed with these ; sociable comment blend with skill and philosophy, tackling subspecies and even misogyny which is a rare thing in hip hop. then, again, Jeru is a rare matter a well.

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Best hip hop albums

32. Scarface – The Fix

View at Amazon Year: 2002 not many musicians release their define work seven albums in. even less indeed in the frantic world of hip hop where youthful bravado broadly trump maturity every time. But then Scarface is different. An astute businessman american samoa well as recording artist, he knows his consultation inside out, being able to give them what they want. And The Fix is the arch case of that. A lurid trip into the rag ’ n ’ riches life style of hip hop hustlers, it ’ s a senior high school octane drive from depart to finish. Key track: In Cold Blood

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Best hip hop albums

33. Jurassic 5 – Jurassic 5

View at Amazon Year: 1998 Those bored by the gangsta rap flower of the mid-Nineties found much succor in the backpack belowground sounds that began to emerge in the late share of that decade. Company Flow represented New York ’ s rampantly experimental edge, while on the other side of America, Jurassic 5, with their emphasis on turntablism, were all about recalling the likes of De La Soul. On Jayou, Concrete Schoolyard and Lesson 6 : The Lecture, the six-piece pleasingly put a smile back on the face of hip hop.
Key track: Concrete Schoolyard

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Best hip hop albums

34. Dead Prez – Let’s Get Free

View at Amazon Year: 2000 Upon release, Let ’ s Get Free was rightly acclaimed as a clarion call for righteous and political pelvis hop – not for nothing were the duet of stic.man and M-1 lauded as the most revolutionist blame outfit since Public Enemy. And while Let ’ s Get Free is a bombastic and cussed call to arms, there are lighter touches besides, displaying that sometimes subtlety is equitable vitamin a knock-down as an iron fist. Key track: Hip hop

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Best hip hop albums

35. Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor

View at Amazon Year: 2006 Hip hop international relations and security network ’ t brusque of the curious cocksure character or seven, and in Lupe Fiasco the most brazen of musical genres gained another confident young serviceman upon the release of Food & Liquor. Fiasco ’ sulfur debut album it displayed the mind of a man judicious beyond his 24 years. evocative of Kanye West ’ s The College Dropout, there was a pop shininess to these polished stories of arouse and aspirational stardom. Two things Fiasco wouldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be short of from here on in. Key track: Kick, Push

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