Eddie Huang never shies away from the spotlight. The outspoken chef and owner of BaoHaus in New York’s East Village also hosts a show for Vice and penned a memoir called Fresh Off the Boat. His Guest DJ set is a celebration of the different sides of his dynamic personality. This summer, he’ll host a new show on MTV called Snack-Off.
For more: http://www.baohausnyc.com/
Banner Image credit: Atisha Paulson
1. Cam'ron - Killa Cam
2. Kanye West - Can't Tell Me Nothing
3. Nina Simone - That's Him Over There
4. Bobby Womack - Across 110th St.
5. DJ Doo Wop Mixtape - Biggie + Teddy Pendergrass mash-up
Eric J. Lawrence: I’m Eric J. Lawrence and I’m here with Eddie Huang. He’s the owner of the restaurant BaoHaus in NY and he appears on numerous TV shows and writes for numerous publications including his new book, Fresh Off the Boat. Today we’re gonna talk about some of the songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Eddie, thanks so much for coming down.
Eddie Huang: Dude, thanks for havin’ me.
EJ: What’s the first song you got for us?
EH: Cam’Ron from Purple Haze, this song “Killa Cam.” It’s like hood elevator music, so very, very soothing (laughs).
EJ: What’s soothing about it?
EH: It’s just very chant-like and even in the verse he says, “This the realest since Kumbaya.” And it’s a very Kumbaya hip-hop song.
EJ: And is hip-hop an important part of what you listen to now as well as what you were listening to when you grew up?
EH: Absolutely. Like hip-hop is me. You know, like, it’s the biggest influence on my life besides probably being Chinese.
Song: Cam’Rom – “Killa Cam”
EJ: Well, that was Cam’Ron as selected by our guest Eddie Huang. What’s the next song you got for us?
EH: Next song is a very inspirational joint – it’s Kanye's “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and I love this song because it just makes me want to get up, get out, and go get money. I want to get paid. Every time I hear that song, I want to be paid.
EJ: Well, talk a little bit about the ways you do get paid.
EH: Oh wow. My legal way of getting money is mostly the restaurant. I also wrote a book. I got paid pretty well to write the book so I enjoyed that. Vice pays me quite well to host a travel show – that’s also very dope. And before getting paid at all at these locations, I’ve probably listened to this song by Kanye. (laughs)
EJ: Talk about the restaurant a bit then. How did you get into that business?
EH: You know, I was always good at cooking – I’m not shy about telling people that I was always a fantastic cook, but I learned from my mom. Everything I know about cooking I learned from my mom.
I never went to culinary school, but I love food and my dad always owned restaurants. Since I was a kid I grew up in restaurants – bus boy, prep cook, expediter, line cook, bartender, server, manager… I did every spot in the restaurant. I love… I live and breathe restaurants, you know. But as a kid I didn’t want to be a restaurant owner and just run my dad’s restaurant because I felt, "What’s the use of me being in this world if I’m just doing what my dad did for the last 30 years?"
So I struck out on my own and I tried a lot of things but, in the end, I realized I love food. And it was the place for me.
And also the book is very much about how as an Asian American there are a lot of doors that are closed to you. There’s a lot of things that people don’t expect you to probably be good at or be able to do. And they don’t see you in those roles, but I came back to food because it’s something that Americans do expect Asians to be good at. And I was like, you know what, I have an advantage in this field. People expect us to be good at it. So I really, really worked hard. We opened BaoHaus, huge success, and it’s been great because now I use BaoHaus, not only to feed people and make them happy that way, but to also talk about the issues that mean something to me.
Song: Kanye West – “You Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
EJ: That was Kanye. A classic selected by our guest Eddie Huang. What’s the next selection you got for us?
EH: The next one is probably gonna surprise you. The next one is Nina Simone, “That’s Him Over There.” I don’t know if it’s one of the more popular Nina Simone songs, but this one for some reason, it’s just the tempo of it. It’s slow, it’s kind of somber, it’s a little sad but sweet you know. And it’s just one of those songs like late in the winter when it’s really brick outside in NY, I just turn this on, you know, sip whatever I have in the cupboard and write. You know. And I really, really love this song. It makes me want to just smoke and drink cognac.
Song: Nina Simone – “That’s Him Over There”
EJ: (laughs) You seem like such an up tempo kind of guy.
EJ: Slow songs don’t seem to be part of the mix. How does that fit?
EH: I don’t know. I’m a big bathrobe dude though and sometimes you put the bathrobe on and it’s just like yo, I need Nina right now. Like I need Nina, like ASAP.
So, that’s my thing…everybody has different sides to them, you know. And I think I try to tap into that with music because I’ve been on tour and you can get frustrated and you can get caught up and the schedule is crazy, but nothing can get me into the mood I need to be in like a song. And I psychologically will use songs to be like, this is where you need to be at right now. This is where your brain needs to be at. This is one of those songs.
EJ: That was Nina Simone selected by our guest Eddie Huang. What’s the next track you got for us?
EH: Oh man, I’m an uptown dude. We already picked Cam’Ron, but the old school uptown track is definitely Bobby Womack's “Across 110th Street”. Love that track. Makes you want to just get up and go walk around Harlem, you know.
EJ: How did you get to NY and what’s your vibe on it?
EH: Yo, I love NY. I really felt like growing up in Orlando and in the suburbs outside of DC, MD, VA… it was, you know, like the America that I saw in movies and read about in books did not exist. You know, this place with equality and freedom and the exchange of ideas. I was like… this is definitely not happening at Wal-Mart or Publix in Orlando. I went up to NY to do summer film at Columbia. I wanted to do short films and directing and writing them, I made one in college. And film wasn’t for me at the time, but I fell in love with the city.
I stayed up at Columbia. I would just walk around Harlem – I really enjoyed that. And the food, the music, the people… NY was America to me. Everything I expected America to be, I found in NY. So this is one of those songs… Songs about neighborhoods in NY is Ma$e thing, but this Bobby Womack “Across 110th Street,” he really captures kind of that era. I wasn’t around for it, but the picture he paints is very uplifting.
EJ: Well here’s a classic NY track from Bobby Womack as selected by our guest Eddie Huang.
Song: Bobby Womack - “Across 110th Street”
EJ: That was Bobby Womack as selected by our guest Eddie Huang. So Eddie what’s the last track you got for us?
EH: The last track I got for you is something off a DJ Doo Wop mix-tape where he used to take – he said his mama records – and put Biggie, Jay Z, and Nas on his mama records, which was a really dope drop for the tape and I loved it. My favorite one was Biggie over Teddy Pendergrass, “Close the Door.”
EJ: And why that one in particular?
EH: It’s just, you know, my thing is this… when ladies come to the crib you want to play sexy music, right. But sometimes that sexy music is a little too soft, so big black nasty Biggie Smalls on a Teddy Pendergrass track is kinda just perfect. That’s music to smash to that I could f*&% with. It’s just kind of like the right amount of griminess and close-the-door Teddy Pendergrass.
EJ: Well, Eddie, I want to thank you so much for coming down and sharing some of your tracks with us.
EH: No definitely, thanks for having me. KCRW – love it.