Prince Royce on 'Double Vision,' J.Lo's 'Back' & Jay-Z, Rihanna Collabo Dreams [Interview]
With his latest album, Double Vision, Prince Royce, born Geoffrey Royce Rojas, has his eyes keenly set on the prize: becoming the Latin world's next big crossover King. Following in the footsteps of Ricky Martin and Jennifer "J.Lo" Lopez, whom he worked with on this summer's chart-topper "Back It Up," the 26-year-old is hoping his first ever English language album will make him a Spanish and English speaking-household name. Music Times Managing Editor Danica Daniel sat down with the Bronx, New York-born Bachata singer to discuss his humble beginnings in the hood, touring the world with Ariana Grande and dreams to one day work with Jay-Z and Rihanna. Not dreams for long as long as he has the talent to back it up.
Danica Daniel: Double Vision is your first English language album. What is the meaning behind that title?
Prince Royce: I think for me growing up in the Bronx, I spoke Spanish at home [but] I spoke English at school. English is my first language and I was kind of living life with two different perspectives. Very Latin: Latin food, Latin culture and Latin music on side. And very American: American music, hip-hop, R&B, pop, club and parties in English. I think that’s what this album represents. I am this guy that grew up in the Bronx with the Latin family and Latin background and I am putting that into one album. Even for my core fans, who know who I am, it’s a different album that shows a Prince Royce they never heard before. I think I was able to show the other side of Prince Royce and that’s the double vision.
Will your Latin fans be surprised when they hear Double Vision?
PR: It’s definitely not Bachata which I sang on my last three albums. A lot of people get confused because it’s in English but it’s also a different genre for me. In Latin music I sing Bachata, which is tropical rhythm from Dominican Republic. I’d compare it to… it’s almost like a country music, variation of salsa. But it’s definitely not pop. So it’s an American side of Prince Royce, which is pop, English but with a flare of Latin influence.
The first song off the album, “Stuck on a Feeling,” samples 112’s “Peaches & Cream.” Does R&B heavily influence you musically?
PR: For sure!! I think I have an old school soul. I love Jodeci. I been singing a “Nice & Slow” cover on the tour with Ariana Grande, and her audience is so young, like 13 to 14 year old girls. So lots of them don’t know the song “Nice & Slow.” Jodeci, Usher, R. Kelly, Prince, Michael Jackson…I listen to them a lot and I love Lionel Richie. I’m just a fan of music I would always search songs. My first single on my first album was “Stand by Me” in Spanish which is from 1961.
Snoop Dogg is featured on “Stuck on a Feeling.” Describe the experience of working with such a rap influencer.
PR: You know these people you see on TV and you wonder if they are like that in person? I think Snoop proved to me that he is very like what you see on TV. When I met him, he’s a cool dude, and he really talks like that. He really is calm and he really is an OG. And he walks in and you smell the aroma in the air. I really liked that about him, I’m grateful that people like him are on the record and I’m grateful for JLo and Pitbull on “Back It Up,” and Kid Ink and Tyga who are more like new wave of rappers today. I’m excited to have all these people on the album.
“Back It Up” was honestly one of my favorite songs of summer 2015. I listened to that song like 25 times on repeat last week at the gym. Did you expect that song to blow up? It’s so infectious.
PR: I really love that song. I actually listen to it in the gym myself sometimes. Just being there with J. Lo and [we are both] from the Bronx, NY. Being able to share with her… we have a really great relationship because of this song. Having J. Lo that close in the video, my cousins called me like, “What’s it like having Jen that close??” [Laughs] She was backing it up on me. It was really an experience meeting her and kicking it with Snoop. People look at J. Lo like she’s a diva but she’s really made me feel at home. She made me feel like a human being because she’s very family oriented it’s been such a nice experience working with her.
Did J. Lo give you any advice since you guys are both from The Bronx?
PR: Yes a lot of advice even down to the tour set list. She came down to rehearsal and said, “Maybe you should switch this up, or change this up,” and I was like, “Hell yeah I’m changing it up!” She’s an all-around performer. She dances, she sings, she acts and I think that when you’ve got people like that on the team that can give you advice I’m grateful.
When you think J. Lo you think crossover superstar and people are basically saying that you’re the next big Latin crossover act like Shakira and Ricky Martin. How do those comparisons make you feel?
PR: For me it’s all about the music. I hope I can be successful. I feel like I’m representing my community and where I’m from and it’s been so long since we’ve seen an artist that came from Latin music and transitioned into English and been successful at it. I’m not trying to be the next Ricky or next Enrique, I’m just trying to follow their path. They’ve opened doors for guys like me. I want to continue to represent Latin music and guys like me that were born and raised in the states but still feel very Latin. I hope to see other Latin artists come out and be able to sing in English and be able to go mainstream. You know my album just came out in Japan and Australian and so many places where they don’t know who Prince Royce is period! Even though I’ve had a lot of success in the past with Latin music. I think it’s great to continue to grow and represent my community.
(Photo: Dennnis Leupold/Courtesy of RCA Records)
You have worked with Kid Ink, Pitbull, Tyga and Selena Gomez. Any favorites and who do you have your eye on to collaborate with next?
PR: I don’t think I can pick a favorite. They are all very unique and different. When I collaborate with people, I do it not out of personal interest, but more because I’m a fan. Everyone that I’ve worked with I’m a fan of in some way. A dream collaboration would be something crazy like Jay-Z. For me he’s always been a big inspiration or somebody like Rihanna or Ariana Grande. Collabos really just happen. I might hear a song and say man I hear this person on it. That’s how the Snoop Dogg song happened. It really goes off the vibe.
You did that Orbit commercial for the 2015 VMAs, how did you get that acting gig?
PR: I met with MTV and I had presented “Back It Up” to them, and they called like, “Listen we got Orbit. We think you’d be good for it. It’s a funny, smile oriented type of commercial” And I said sure. It was a great experience. I’ve never done something like that on camera and it was really funny. For me the best part was being able to see people’s reaction to it. It made people laugh. I laughed when I saw it. I’m grateful that I was able to be a part of the VMA’s that way and I’m working on some commercials with Sprint also that are going to be funny. I like stuff like that outside of music. I like that I can work on other things outside of being a vocalist or a songwriter.
In the commercial you hijacked the 2015 VMAs from host Miley Cyrus. How’d you think she did as a host?
PR: I think she did a good job and she made it her own and that’s why I assume they got her. I think she was great, my personal opinion. She made me laugh. I was sitting in the audience.
Now that you have conquered commercials, are films next?
PR: I’d love to. I actually have a few opportunities coming up that didn’t work schedule wise but I’d love to be part of a series or film and explore that. I’d love to everything.
You have achieved so much success, when did you know you made it?
PR: I still don’t believe I made it yet. For me it was all about just taking my family out the hood. For me being able to take my mom out the projects, out the Bronx and knowing she’s safe and good was most important. The first thing I did was move my family out of the Bronx.
We actually share something in common. I read that your dad was a taxi driver, my dad was a taxi driver as well so I know the drive to work hard that they instill in you.
PR: I’m grateful. There are people that I meet now that were born with money and I ask them how it is. For me I think I’m very fortunate to have seen both sides. I know what it is to live in the projects I know what people go through. I know what it’s like to leave at three o’clock in the morning to go drive a yellow cab. I know what it is to save up 200 bucks to buy some sneakers. Now being on the other side and I’m able to get a car and a house I think I’m very compassionate and I like to do charity work and inspire these kids who didn’t have a dream. It was very easy to do drugs and one of my friends got locked up. I try to never leave that other side behind and every now and then I go back to the hood and drive by the hood I grew up in, to get that inspiration cause you can get caught up with the money and the fame. I think it’s always good to remember where you come from.
Double Vision was released this past July but the rumors are that you are already working on your next Spanish language album.
PR: I think people are missing the Bachata now after all the English stuff. People ask me if I’m going to leave Latin music and that’s not my intention at all. Never.
Prince Royce will join Pitbull in Miami, Florida at Bayfront Park for his 2016 New Year's Eve Revolution countdown televised nationally on FOX. Check out the promo below and if you would like to join in on the fun for FREE, apply for limited VIP tickets here.