Workin’ For The Weekend: Chicago Wolves at Oklahoma City Barons “Positivity”

Rap music, still considered a trend at the time, blossomed in the mid to late 80’s thanks to a creative swing by influential outfits like De La Soul and Jungle Brothers. What those acts did was simply prove to the world that rap was more than lyrical street poetry with beats-a-plenty. Blending strong jazz influences to hip hop beats pushed the envelope on the already ridiculous expectations incorrectly placed upon rap groups.

Gang Starr, using heavy samples, bright horns, and positive lyrics, was one of these uber creative duos that is heavily responsible for the progression of the genre.

Guru and DJ Premier oozed confidence and positivity while completely embracing the new sound of East Coast stylings. No More Mr. Nice Guy, their debut album released in 1989, was and still is a diamond in the rough. It’s heart felt, jovial, smart, and wickedly inspirational. Despite their sorrowful ending with the death of Guru in 2010, the legacy of progression over commercial success would only solidify their spot in the annals of hip hop fame.

“Positivity”, was probably the duos most successful single of their early career. The samples were heavy, the beats were crafty, and the DJ scratch breakout is superb. Lyrically it’s what you’d expect – eternally optimistic, hopeful, and smart – but also aware of the pitfalls of humanity.

“Now is the chance to advance and get an outlook
Create the circumstance, because I doubt books”

“Since I’m an optimist, I’ll turn and walk with this
tape playing loudly, inside my headphones”

“Havin nothin to lose, so much to gain”

“I’ll achieve, I’ll receive, and I’ll be livin free
Me and my DJ Premier with positivity… positivity! Yeah”

As “junior high” as the lyrics seem in 2013, the freshness of the sound, candor, and flow were spot on in 1989. What hasn’t changed in that span of time is the message, which is still eternally understood. Positive thinking leads to positive lifestyles. Be it. Do it. Live it. Smart fellas.

The 4-5-0-1 Barons could learn this lesson too. (By extension, so could the Chicago Wolves)

The first days of November are now upon us, and with it comes a brand new opponent for the 2013-14 season. The Chicago Wolves have had a pretty tipsy start to the season, and the last three games have been proof of that. Riding a three game losing streak, and having not won a game since October 19th, the Wolves travel to Oklahoma City for a two-step affair on Friday and Saturday night. Both teams are hopeful that November brings some really good play, but pessimism wins at least until we are proven wrong.

The Wolves look to Corey Locke, signed this July, to steer the offensive ship, and in eight games played, he has done just that. Three goals and four assists has Locke in his typical a-point-per-game-or-better self that fans have watched in multiple cities (Binghamton, Houston, Hamilton), and fully anticipate him continuing for the duration of the season. In the top 100 in all time AHL scoring, Locke is, well, a lock when it comes to earning points for his team. Although he is yet to play a single minute of NHL hockey, the 2003 draft pick by the Candiens is one heckuva player, and dangerous to opponents.

Mark Mancari is another familiar AHL foe, and his journeyman tendencies have slowed as he has found a good bit of action with the Chicago Wolves the last two seasons. He is a really good player, and a highly chancy winger that gives even the most intelligent defender huge fits. Four goals and a single assist already this season, Mancari is shaping up to be a huge asset to the Wolves moving forward.

Matt Climie. Jake Allen. You know them? Me too. Both have had great moments in their AHL careers, but have struggled greatly in the early moments of the current season. Climie is yet to win a game in three starts and has a GAA of 3.73. Not good, not good at all. By comparison, Allen has fared much better, but has seen his GAA rise to 2.79. However, both are fine goaltenders, and will certainly get better as the season rolls on.

Defense, offense, goaltending aside, John Anderson is back with the team this season. The man who coached the team from 1997 to 2008, winning four championships in that time, is now back and ready to aid a new batch of prospects in Chicago. Since he left the club, he has spent time in the NHL (Atlanta, Phoenix), and this only adds to his already stellar resume. If anyone can wrangle a batch of struggling players into a right standing core of contenders, he can. Rarely is he out coached, and that gives the Wolves a leg up, even with a rough star.

With Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, and Ryan Martindale absent from the Barons lineup, there are a few new faces to squeeze in. Mario Lamareoux and Justin Maylan, recently signed to AHL PTO’s just might fit the bill offensively. While Corey Potter and Denis Grebahkov join the defensive side of the puck after recently being unclaimed on the waiver wire from Edmonton. All will be instrumental in future success.

The Barons will need to play some really good defense, find a way to score goals consistently, and suddenly play well enough to protect a tandem of prospect goaltenders in Tyler Bunz and Olivier Roy. With Richard Bachman still hanging around in the NHL, it’s up to the two Oilers draft picks to shoulder some of the burden in net. A split over the weekend would be good for both players, and also give fans a good perspective on “where” these two fit in the depth charts. On a squad that is still struggling with the Eakins overly aggressive swarm hybrid, the goaltenders will be left out in the cold far too much. These two guys will have to be good if they are to beat the Wolves twice in one weekend.

I’m hopeful. And maybe it’s because I listened to Gang Starr too much this week, but regardless, I’m hopeful that November is vastly different than October. Here’s to December being better than both.

Games are Friday and Saturday in Oklahoma City. Both will be heard on KXXY 96.1. Go Barons!