Versace, Versace, Ver… oh…
Crystal Leww: Chinatowns in media have become part of a fantasy, places where postmodern narratives and identities get negotiated to the point where they don’t exist in any real form anymore. They exist as places of intrigue and fascination, as places of danger and foreignness, as places where directors and artists can create an unknown without having to leave the borders of the United States. Migos drop a ton of references in this, very few which actually have anything to do with China. Pacquiao, karate, and Motorola are all Asian, but none are Chinese. The ad-lib “ching-chong” is the most nonsense non-Chinese phrase ever, but it’s canonical; it’s something that everyone recognizes isn’t actually Chinese. His girl “Kitana” draws her name from a character from the Mortal Kombat series, created by two white dude video game designers. They most likely projected their own fantasies of what a hypersexual Asian assassin woman can be. Interracial relationships in the Chinatown aren’t meaningful. They are not meant to prove anything about a post-racial world or a multicultural society. They are merely a stylistic tool that exist to stamp out any useful discourse or critical thinking about hybridity and replace them with fleeting images and fantasies of the exotic. Migos, most likely unintentionally, have created the perfect distillation of Asian American identity in mainstream media in that there is nothing meaty or nuanced to think about when it comes to Asian identity in America. “Chinatown” is a reflection of the dominant cultural norm rather than a break from it.
Edward Okulicz: “Versace” just rolls off the tongue so much more sweetly than an awkward, clunky word like “Chinatown.” The former track sounded effortless as a result whereas this one is clunky from start to finish, with the notable exception of, you guessed it, when Migos call back to “Versace,” a topic about which they seem to be a bit more knowledgeable than China. The ultra-basic production isn’t pulling much weight, just a few stabs of bass and a sparse beat to try to fill in the holes left in between the hook — endless iterations and enthusiasm can’t get past the fact that the title is like a full stop.
Alfred Soto: Using Chief Keef intonations to tell a conventional tale of feeling like Biggie in a Chinatown state of mind, this crew is most effective when it makes noises and inserts unsyncopated chants, not when it invokes Mr. Miyagi (have they watched The Karate Kid?).
Brad Shoup: A rewrite of “Versace” with a bajillion pop-culture references? Cool. Launching dreaded things off the title? Hell, just saying “Chinatown” 200 times and calling it a day would be a  minimum.
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The other night, I reread a Gideon Lewis-Kraus piece in an old issue of Lucky Peach magazine regarding Chinatown myths and realities. His fascination with Chinatown (used as a catch-all term for a number of global Chinese inner-city communities) comes from the area’s “defiance and illegibility at a time when everybody seems to know everything.” He recognises that looking at the area as a bastion of mystery means to walk a very thin line pointing towards “racist implications of lawlessness or inscrutability.” Who knows what Migos are thinking with “Chinatown,” but there’s a sense that they are invested in the outdated idea of Chinatown (the place) being an area of ill repute for under-the-nose drug running. The “ching chong” ad-lib that occurs less than a minute in shows that “Chinatown” (the song) doesn’t consider doing it wisely. It’s a damn shame, because Migos are great. Here, they’re idiots behind the times.
Jonathan Bogart: Good drive, hits his marks. Having something to say? Or, at a bare minimum, not saying some stupid fucking shit? Start over, try again. Next time, don’t say “ching-chong.”