Summer soul-stice: Soul 2 Eclipse

Positivity is relative. We’ve gotten so loose with that term that calling a group positive is like describing an artist’s album as "the next level."

Right. Whatever.

So when you come across a group that does appeal to your more progressive senses, what do you call it? Spiritual? Too lofty. Enlightened? Too ethereal. How about plain ol’ "creative"?

I’m using the term as an understatement, but Soul 2 Eclipse is a creative duo that deserves to be heard. It takes chances and makes a real attempt to push the boundaries of what’s acceptable in hip-hop culture. The spacey imagery on the cover of Soul 2’s self-titled debut album is fitting. The CD offers a variety of music – much of it original – that fits formats from 105.9 to 89X. Seriously. And it’s good.

Listening to a song called "It Ain’t Right" – with the duo themselves, Julio Dejasas and Jack Tripp, who met in Atlanta in 1997 – I’m hearing a vocal influence that’s rather eerie for a hip-hop record. The song is about a son struggling to help his mother escape an abusive relationship.

"Who’s the Bob Dylan fan?" I ask. Dejasas, laughing, raises a hand. Interesting thing is, these two are a visual contrast à la Outkast. Tripp is the jersey-and-jeans street balance to Dejasas’ eclectic Billy Jack hat and suede draws – or something like that. But their combination equals a hopeful outlook on life, supported by a kaleidoscope of musical choices and uplifting lyrics.

Their marketing package includes an organized, energetic stage show that heightens their message. Songs like "Y2Hey," an opus about homelessness, and "You Said," define Soul 2’s anti-extravagant M.O. With the right marketing, they’ll end up with strong fan bases on both ends of your FM band.

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