Once dubbed "The Omar Little of the Cooking Channel" by Anthony Bourdain, the infamous Eddie Huang is a force of human nature who's never want for flavor. Chef, writer, entrepreneur, designer, and self-described "Human Panda" and "Bang Bros. connoisseur," Huang is renowned as the co-owner - along with his brother Evan - of Baohaus, the celebrated Lower East Side eatery where the reinvented Taiwanese-Chinese grub always goes better with a soundtrack of vintage Ghostface or Clipse. Eddie's forthcoming memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, proves his prodigious pen the equal of his mighty culinary skills. And his new web series of the same name tracks his adventures across the globe. Yet with all this action ongoing in Eddie's orbit, son still took a few moments to share some personal thoughts - and his trademark unfiltered opinions - on the recordings that changed his life.
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1. Care Bears - "Friends Make Everything Better" (Kid Stuff, 1986)
Eddie Huang: This was my first record ever. I was like 5 years old and had a children's machine that played 7" records. You got this jump free if you bought Triaminic cold medicine. My parents never bought soda, Sunny-D, Capri Sun, any of that good shit so I actually liked getting sick 'cause Triaminic was kinda delicious. I blame the Care Bears and Triaminic for that time in 9th grade I drank two bottles of Robitussin and fell out between classes.
2. Inner Circle - "Bad Boys" (RAS, 1987)
Eddie Huang: This shit went so hard as the intro to COPS. I loved watching people wild out on that show. These days we all hate FOX, but as an '80s baby, I fucked with FOX heavy 'cause they had COPS, Married With Children, and The Simpsons. Hate it or love it, '90s derels grew up on FOX: Future Perps of America.
3. Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg - "Dre Day" (Death Row, 1992)
Eddie Huang: My cousin played this for me one summer when I was 11 and it was a wrap. When it dropped, this was some futuristic other shit. You knew as soon as you heard the bass your life would never be the same. Between this record and N.W.A running through the "I Have a Dream" banner, I just related to how fucking pissed these dudes were. If you read the book, you'll read about how my parents always fought, I got my ass kicked around, snapped on by white kids, and for some reason I just liked beef. I was around it, got used to it, and when I wasn't feeling something I'd say it. RIP Eazy, but I couldn't stop laughing when Snoop said, "I'm screamin' 187 with my dick in your mouth beyotch."
4. 2Pac - "Me Against the World" (Interscope, 1995)
Eddie Huang: First I got mad, then I got learned. It feels so long ago when hip-hop was really some revolutionary, Native Tongues, eat good, smoke good, dead prez mind sex shit. Then Big died, Diddy happened, Master P declared himself Captain Kirk, and we STILL waiting for Jay Elec to drop. Every once in a while, people still drop gems, but I'm not really listening to hip-hop for knowledge darts these days. "Me Against the World" was that song you could write a book report on in humanities class without being clowned. I used to say, "I wish another rapper would come around who was this heartfelt with the NEED to say something," but I'm over it. There's one Pac, and in a lot of ways we got blessed with Kanye: he ain't ASKING for shit, he's taking it and then he's wearing it. That's the evolution, so I just appreciate Pac and this song for what it was at the time. Art mimics the reality of the moment and I guess we just don't need a voice like Pac's? Good, bad, I dunno, but it is. RIP homie.
5. Cam'ron - "Killa Cam" (Roc-A-Fella, 2004)
Eddie Huang: This is hood elevator, life anthem, chinkstronaut music. It's not just this track; the Cam'ron period in general was my shit. Nas got 'Hov, but Cam'ron had the hardest line out of anyone during that beef: "Call me 1010 WINS, in 22 seconds I gave him the world/ Took his chick with me, came back gave him his girl." I heard that and dropped the head phones. What can you say? Cam just said, "I'm the Baby Daddy" - he wins.
People hate on post-golden era hip-hop and tried to distance themselves from the word "urban," listened to electronic, indie rock, cry-in-her-sweater-when-she-let's-your-friend-hit type emo hot trash. I even remember some of these corny street wear boutiques putting out Japanese electronic sit on a bottle of Head & Shoulders mix-tapes while pretending like every thing in the store isn't "urban" inspired. I rocked Air Forces, purple whatever, and kept the stickers on my hat until last year. I never understood how people could grow up 15, 20 years, riding for hip-hop and then just toss it to the side 'cause it wasn't cool to rock baggy jeans anymore, fuckin' fugazis. Styles come and go, but if you listened to hip-hop 'cause of that, shoot yourself. Like post-Jordan NBA subliminal racists hating on AI talking about how they think college basketball is a better game, please speak with your eyes open, my g. These four corners, take an hour to shoot, NCAA fools couldn't drop a triple-double at Stuytown. Dipset, NBA, and Mono Sodium Glutemate forever. Hip-hop will never die and the real isn't "back," because it always was. Don't tell the rest of us it's over because you voluntarily paid $200 to put your balls in a selvage denim headlock like a fucking retard.
BONUS: Fresh Off the Boat with Eddie Huang: Bay Area, Pt. 1.
Eddie visits a biker gang in Oakland, CA, hunts rabbit, gives hipsters the screwface, and enjoys some deep fried bunny back at the clubhouse. Card carrying PETA members may wanna pass, though.
EXTRA BONUS: Book cover - Eddie Huang - Fresh Off the Boat (Random House)
Coming January 29, 2013.