Dillon Francis is quite an eccentric figure within the EDM scene. He originally staked his claim to fame by being part of the group to pioneer moombahton, a genre that combined house music with reggaeton, and bring it onto the mainstream circuit. After rising to fame with his edited version “Masta Blasta”, Francis broke into the mainstream circuit with breakneck speed. He was soon part of the staple set of DJs playing the likes of Ultra Music Festival and Tomorrowland, and with several releases on the likes of Dim Mak Records, Mad Decent Records, and OWSLA, it was evident that Francis had made his mark on the EDM world.
The difference between Francis and other EDM artists is that where a lot of them tended to follow the trends in dance music, Francis rather acted like a less pretentious version of deadmau5 and embarked on his own quest of musical discovery, without completely shunning mainstream influences. His debut album Money Sucks, Friends Rule proves that he is more than willing to allow more mainstream influences creep into his music, while also maintaining a semblance eccentricity and uniqueness. The most obvious mark of eccentricity is upon the opening track entitled “All That”, featuring Twista and The Rejectz. The track sees Francis experiment with a hybrid of hip-hop and deep house that is best described as glitch hop. The rappers on the song spew the typical rhymes about getting drunk and partying while Francis lays down glitch bass lines and sampled hip-hop drum claps. The singular drop on the track screams of deep house. It is an oddly catchy song, despite the sub-par lyrics.
There are two tracks of Money Sucks, Friends Rules that heavily point to the mainstream influences. Francis teamed up with DJ Snake for “Get Low”, a fusion of trap and mainstream deep house which has recently been dominating the charts. Directly afterwards comes a collaboration with rising progressive house superstar Martin Garrix, who happens to only be 18 years old. For once, Garrix’s tendency to use a receptive formula when it comes to his music is tempered by Francis’s moombahton style. Rapid two-step drum beats and trap-styled synth lines are juxtaposed next to progressive house bass lines and massive bass drops. This is the kind of track that was designed with one intention: to fall into the middle of a set at Ultra and drive the crowd wild.
However, there is more to Money Sucks, Friends Rule than massive drops, below-average rapping, and heavily mainstream influences. “When We Were Young”, featuring The Chain Gang of 1974, is a progressive house song that does not revolve around the drops. The focus rather seems to be on the astounding vocals and the ecstatic euphoria that the build-up gives before reaching the cusp of the bass drop. In a way, it reflects exactly how it feels to be young: you’re constantly on the cusp of doing something brilliant with your life.
Money Sucks, Friends Rule is peppered with those moments where the music seems to correlate with something bigger than the bass lines or how the bass drops. Francis does something that few EDM artists can do, and that is capturing the various emotions that play a part of our daily lives. In this case, that emotion happens to be the rampant joy of being alive, or in the case of “Love in the Middle of a Firefight”, he captures the dangerous element of being in-love. Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco provides his stunning vocals to an uplifting progressive house track. “Hurricane”, featuring Lily Elsie, does something similar, except drawing a heavier influence from electro house.
Money Sucks, Friends Rule is a massive and brilliant full-length debut album. It showcases Dillon Francis in his complete element and in complete control, even on his collaborations with other DJs. He directs The Presets‘ drum-‘n-bass sound in a direction that matches with the electro house route he wanted to take on “We Are Impossible”.With Money Sucks, Friends Rule, he gives himself an even larger pool of songs to draw from when constructing that set for Ultra.