As I prepared for this weeks’ post, I took a look over at the Billboard charts. At the top of the Hot 100 chart for the week is a song by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber called “Despacito”. It is the first Spanish-language song to be number one in the US since “The Macarena”. That was when my now adult daughter was still riding in strollers. Weekly Music Commentary is not featuring Daddy Yankee or Luis Fonsi this week. Nor are we discussing Justin Bieber. However, this week we are featuring another Spanish-language singer/songwriter. This week we are featuring Latin music artist from the Bronx, NY, Prince Royce.
If you have not heard about Prince Royce before this post, allow me to tell you a little about his accomplishments. In the past 5 years, multi-platinum award-winning, Latin superstar Prince Royce has scored 11 number one hits, 21 Latin Billboard Awards, 18 Premio Lo Nuestro Awards, 19 Premios Juventud Awards, and earned 9 Latin Grammy nominations. Royce has a massive fan base with over 2 billion streams online, 33.5 million followers on Facebook, 6.8 million on Twitter and 7 million on Instagram. He has sold out the most prestigious venues in Latin America, as well as concerts throughout the US including Radio City Music Hall, The Nokia Theater and the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
It all began on May 11, 1989. Geoffrey Royce Rojas was born and raised in The Bronx, a borough of New York City. He is the second oldest of four children, born to Dominican parents. His father drove a taxicab and his mother worked at a beauty salon. When he was young, he participated in choir in elementary school, competed in talent shows and, at the age of thirteen, began writing poetry which turned into songwriting. Recalling his first time performing before a crowd, he said: “[In] elementary school, I was singing a Christmas song. I felt really comfortable on stage.”
With his humble origins with a Dominican family, it seems that Prince Royce had the background that would help him find success. Like so many before him, Royce seemed to already have natural musical abilities. Only time and opportunity were needed to make everything come to the forefront.
At age fifteen, Royce had begun making music with a partner named Jose Chusan better known as “Jino”. The duo was also known as Jino and Royce, El Duo Real. At the age of sixteen, Royce started making music with longtime friend and producer Donzell Rodriguez, and Vincent Outerbridge known as “L Snipe & Vinny”. The duo eventually had a meeting with Atlantic Records in early 2007. With the decline of the reggaeton music, Royce made the greatest decision to focus more on the bachata industry. At age nineteen, Royce met Andrés Hidalgo, who after hearing his previous demo instantly became his manager. Hidalgo began helping Royce work hands-on with bachata music. That was the turning point which helped Royce decide that pursuing a musical career is what he wanted to do. Hidalgo later introduced Royce to Sergio George, who immediately signed the former to his label, Top Stop Music, after listening to three of his demos.
Royce released his eponymous début studio album on March 2, 2010. The album was produced primarily by Hidalgo and Sergio George, with co-production duties by Royce. It was at this time that I became aware of the young star. The lead single from the album, “Stand by Me” (a cover of Ben E. King’s 1961 song) peaked at number-one on the US Billboard Tropical Songs chart, and reached number eight on the Hot Latin Songs chart. The album earned Royce a nomination for Best Contemporary Tropical Album at the Latin Grammy Awards of 2011. At the awards ceremony, Royce performed “Stand by Me” with the song’s original performer Ben E. King. I thought then this was a very good performance. Now, looking back at that night, the performance was a landmark as one of our classic entertainers introduced a future star of the music industry. Unfortunately, we lost Ben E. King after a long illness in 2015.
In May 2011, Royce signed with Atlantic Records to release English-language albums in a joint partnership with the Top Stop label. Royce then began working on his second studio album, which was said to be mostly in English with Latin music influences. That same month, Enrique Iglesias announced that he would tour with Royce and Pitbull as special guests, during a leg which began in mid-September 2011. Right before that leg of the tour Iglesias spoke excitedly about his “friends” Royce and Pitbull joining him.
On February 14, 2017 Prince Royce released his fifth studio album titled Five. Like most of his work to date, the album contains lyrics in both Spanish and English. The album includes collaborations with artists such as Shakira, Chris Brown, Farruko, Zendaya, Gerardo Ortíz, Gente de Zona and Arturo Sandoval.
Next up for Prince Royce is another tour this summer. Kicking off in Texas at the end of June, Royce will headline what should be a show to remember. After touring along with Pitbull last summer, and a variety of dates throughout previous years, Prince Royce understands much about live performances. Therefore, an audience awaits bi-lingual music from an artist with a lot of songs left in his tank.