Prince Royce Biography
Along the way, Royce has amassed a huge fan base with over one billion streams online and over 31 million Facebook followers. He has sold out the most prestigious venues in Latin America, as well as concerts throughout the U.S., including those at Radio City Music Hall, The Nokia Theater, and the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Despite all of those accomplishments, Royce says one of the most memorable moments of his career thus far was performing his hit Bachata cover of the classic “Stand By Me” (a hit single on his debut album) with Ben E. King at the Latin Grammys in 2010. “It's nearly 50 years later, I'm with the guy who wrote it, and we sang it together,” he recalls. “It's the song that opened the doors for me. It almost felt like he was passing the torch.”
Five years ago, Royce grabbed that torch and is still running with it by expanding his horizons into new styles of music. In November, he released the electro-pop/R&B banger “Stuck on a Feeling,” featuring Snoop Dogg, followed by the May release of the dancehall-flavored “Back It Up” (featuring Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez) — two tracks from his first English-language album Double Vision. “It has always been a dream of mine to do something in English and show this side of me that people haven't seen before,” Royce says, adding that English is his first language. “It's a side that's always been there. It's not something that's manufactured. I've always believed that I can do it and now is the time. I've been working on this for several years and am clear on what I want the sound to be.”
That sound is an engaging blend of pop, Latin, hip-hop, and R&B that Royce calls “rhythm-leaning pop with a Latin flair” — a perfect bridge between his past and future. The vibrant “Back It Up” is the perfect summer song and title track “Double Vision,” featuring Tyga, is all strutting escapism. Then there are the ballads “Lucky One,” which Royce wrote with Toby Gad (Beyoncé, John Legend), and “Extraordinary,” co-written with Rune Westberg (Daughtry), which Royce calls “love songs” for their heartfelt lyrics and stripped-down arrangements. Royce’s other collaborators include a host of top hit-makers: RedOne (Lady Gaga/Nicki Minaj), Ilya (Ariana Grande/Jennifer Lopez), Savan Kotecha (Jessie J/Ellie Goulding), Jason Evigan (Jason Derulo/Demi Lovato), Rob Knox (Justin Timberlake/T.I.), Hardwork (Sean Paul, Damien Marley), The Cataracs (Far East Movement, Selena Gomez), ShonuFF (Fergie), Pop & Oak (Britney Spears/Drake), Roccstar (Chris Brown/Jennifer Lopez), and Nasri (Magic!/David Guetta). “It's exciting to see all of these heavy hitters come on and support this movement,” Royce says.
And make no mistake, Royce sees his music as a movement. “It’s been more than a decade since the ‘Latin explosion’ artists like Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, and Shakira first crossed over and I want to show that it can happen again and that there is a lot of talent in Latin music,” he says. “I feel a responsibility to my community. You deal with stereotypes all the time where it’s like ‘Whoa, you're Latin? You've got to be singing Salsa music. You've got to be living la vida loca.’ I think this album is about breaking through all that. There are so many Hispanics out there who speak English and are just as American as anybody else. They like R&B and hip-hop. I think this album represents a new generation of Latinos who are just like me.”
“That’s where the idea of Double Vision came from,” he continues. “I grew up with English in school and Spanish at home. Two different languages, two different rhythms. It’s like seeing the world from two different perspectives. I think that's what this album is — a dude who enjoys both worlds and sees both points of view, and is bringing them together in one album.”
Geoffrey Royce Rojas is one of four kids born to Dominican parents who emigrated to the U.S. in the ’80s, joining their extended family in New York. His dad is a retired taxicab driver and his mother is a hair-stylist. He was raised in Patterson Houses, a rough public housing project in the South Bronx, but spent his summers in the Dominican Republic visiting his grandmother. “We would go to the beach and hang out and that’s where I first heard Bachata,” he recalls. “Over there, it wasn’t about R&B and hip-hop, it was just straight Bachata, Merengue.” Obsessed with artists like Usher, Michael Jackson, Tyrese, and Ginuwine, Royce knew he wanted to be a singer by age 14. By 16, he had recorded in his first professional studio. In junior high school, a poetry class Royce chose as his required extracurricular led to his writing stories, rhymes, and poems. “Those poems turned into songs,” he says. “I kind of started rhyming, but with melodies. That's how I got into songwriting.”
After graduating from high school, Royce attended community college and began working at a cell phone store. “I was working at Sprint and studying literature,” he says. “I was studying to be an English teacher.” But with more cash in his pocket, he began to invest in his music. “I would work 12 hours at the cell phone store, do two hours of night school, then work on my demo. I took all the money from selling cell phones and put it into this demo, which became my first album. Every single song from my demo is a song that I did with my spare money.” (In a nice turn of events coming full circle, Royce has also been rehired by Sprint’s new Hispanic Business Unit and will work with the company to help develop unique music-related initiatives and programs.)
Royce’s hustle paid off. His debut album eventually reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Tropical and Latin Albums charts and was the best-selling Latin album of 2011 in the U.S., going triple platinum (Latin), and spawning four singles, including Royce’s Bachata rendition of "Stand by Me," and the No. 1 Latin and Tropical hit "Corazón Sin Cara.” His album Phase II arrived in 2012, followed by Soy el Mismo in 2013. Now signed to RCA Records, Royce is grateful for the opportunity to bring his music to a brand-new audience. “My album is coming out in Japan,” he marvels. “I never would have had a shot there if I weren’t making this transition. I just want to grow. The time is right."