After months of anticipation, Dillon Francis ignites ‘This Mixtape Is Fire’ [Review]
After months of anticipation, Dillon Francis ignites 'This Mixtape Is Fire'
This isn’t the moombahton that Dave Nada coined at a Washington DC house party in the late-2000’s. This is how Dillon Francis does moombahton. It’s moombahton with 20 packets of Taco Bell Diablo Sauce. This mixtape is in fact fire. The name spares no room for subtleties, as Dillon delivers his highly anticipated EP. Most will hail this as the Columbia Records star “returning to his roots,” but really This Mixtape is Fire is much more than that. It is the follow up to his debut full-length record, Money Sucks, Friends Rule, it is a much needed rejuvenation to an oft-neglected genre, and it comes at a time when Dillon is moving from hitmaker to tastemaker. Possibly hyped harder than his actual record was, This Mixtape is Fire is finally here, and Dillon pulls out all the punches. The EP spins back to Dillon’s roots, as he showcases a thing or two he’s learned since becoming a global DJ icon.
Reviewed by Will McCarthy and David Klemow; Photos by Rukes
Bruk Bruk (I Need Your Lovin)
Though Dillon Francis has come to wear many hats as a producer over his still budding career, his classic production tends to have an inherent duality, between rich warm melodies and ferociously disruptive tribal drops. “Bruk Bruk (I Need Your Lovin)” revisits the Jekyll & Hyde of Dillon’s old music with a progression as contrasting as it’s title. Uplifting introductory pads and modulated vocals yield way to white-hot, virulent synths. As such, the blast into Dillon Francis’ past begins…
What's Your Name (feat. Calvin Harris)
For the last year, Dillon Francis fans have been looking forward to his Calvin Harris collaboration without even knowing it. Since debuting “What’s Your Name” at last year’s EDC Las Vegas, fans have fervently awaited the moombahton monstrosity. Compared to the hype surrounding Skrillex’s involvement with “Bun Up the Dance” in the months prior to its release, news of a Calvin Harris collaboration was fairly quiet; Dillon publically referred to it as “the song I opened EDC Vegas with,” undoubtedly chuckling at the irony of fans asking for the name of “What’s Your Name.” The song opens with distinctly Calvin Harris-penned chords supporting an uncredited vocalist soulfully singing the titular query. The resultant break is an idyllic festival-ready moombahton eruption, replete with elephantine synth roars and stomping rhythms.
Bun Up The Dance (feat. Skrillex)
In a mixtape loaded with marquee collaborations, longtime friend, and fellow superstar Skrillex‘s contribution leads the pack. Whispers of a moombah collaboration between the two giants have floated around for what feels like years. But as a track actually comes to fruition, the joint effort is exactly what you’d expect. Its aggressive, hot-to-the-touch, quintessential moombahton, firing dancehall-inspired drum rhythms and sweeping sirens at a syrupy 108 beats per minute. “I want a little fire, now gimme the line” temp the heavyweight DJs as the track’s spastic two-step pulse twists bachata and electro beats into a spicy, sweat-inducing selection. Skrillex and Dillon on the same track is exactly what you’d expect, as “Bun Up the Dance” is bound to turn any dance floor into a sauna.
Pull It (feat. Bro Safari)
Hyped considerably less than the blockbuster Skrillex and Kygo joints, Bro Safari‘s feature – “Pull It” – may be the most unsung cut of the whole mixtape. Marked by an indisputably classic moombahton frame, Dillon and Bro Safari doll out a barrage of distorted samples and wailing horns on this dance floor-ready selection. This feisty fusion of sharp electro house and steamy reggaeton inspirations doesn’t hate to veer on the arrhythmic side at points, and it may pack the meanest punch of the EP.
Coming Over (feat. Kygo & James Hersey)
A short break from the battering electro comes by way of Dillon and Kygo’s “Coming Over.” Albeit being the slightest bit out of sorts with the rest of the collection, the tune is catchy, short and sweet. Its placid melody, carried by James Hersey’s vocals, serves as a quick catch of breath among the EP’s more high-octane cuts. Parallel to Kygo’s common motifs, beach-ready synths flutter and float across the collection’s lighter offering, as Dillon flexes a versatile production muscle alongside the Norwegian star, amid the chaos of the EP’s other haymakers.
Lies (feat. Chromeo)
The variety in composition of Money Sucks Friends Rule showed listeners that Dillon Francis has no interest in being shackled down to strict EDM. This facet of Dillon’s personality presents itself on This Mixtape in his Chromeo collaboration, “Lies.” Slow-paced, spacious, and sultry, “Lies” evokes the feeling of an interlude in a live set, and comes as a welcomed change of pace on the EP. Entrancing piano chords and groovy guitar solos surround Chromeo vocalist Dave Macklovitch’s vocoded croons, providing a suitable outro to the EP. Disclaimer:don’t look for a drop on this track, you can find plenty of those elsewhere on the collection.
Bonus: I Can't Take It (Party Favor Remix)
As a bonus track, Dillon gives a nod to Mad Decent up-and-comer Party Favor, who authored the collection’s only remix. Party Favor’s remix begins with a recording of Dillon’s German alter-ego DJ Hansel lamenting about being at a party which favored trap music over deep house. As Deutsch-Dillon complains about partygoers twerking, Party Favor’s twerk-infused remix commences.
Altogether, This Mixtape is Fire is well worth the wait but it’s hardly revolutionary. It is Dillon returning to where his career began to prove that no single genre holds him down. And whereas moombahton has survived in neighborhoods in Miami and Los Angeles, and continues to live on in Washington DC, it has been largely dormant in the broader American market while other sub-genres have begun to thrive. This mixtape is what moombahton needed and the embers of this collection may provide just the heat required to wake moombahton’s sleeping giant.