Prince Royce has always been proud of his Dominican heritage. Born in the Bronx, New York, the singer takes every opportunity to honor his Latin roots and his American identity at the same time. The songs on his 2015 album Double Vision were inspired by his experience straddling two cultures, and he explored a similar theme on his 2020 release, Alter Ego. Royce, who is bilingual, divided his Spanglish record Alter Ego into two parts: Genesis, which was recorded in his parents’ native country of the Dominican Republic, reflects his signature bachata sound, while Enigma saw him fusing different genres like R&B, reggaeton, and pop. On Sunday, May 2, Royce paid tribute to his heritage again by partnering with Presidente, a Dominican-brand beer, to perform at the Reventón de Verano festival. His participation in the concert held in his hometown shows how although he was born in the U.S., he’ll never forget where his family comes from.
“Some of my best memories and some of my best times were when I was in the Bronx. When I think about my life, I miss a big portion of when I was [there],” Royce tells Elite Daily, adding his favorite thing about having grown up in New York was getting to be with family. “I’m close to all of my cousins, all of my aunts and uncles, and all of my brothers and sisters. My friends and my best friends were always like my brothers and my cousins, too.”
Building genuine connections with people has always been important to Royce. Although he’s become friends with many of his peers in the music industry, his relationships with artists like Marc Anthony and Natti Natasha have gone even deeper because they’re also Latin superstars from the Bronx.
Since NYC will always hold a special place in his heart, Royce always finds ways to give back to those in his community. In 2020, the star teamed up with the Fundación Niño de la Caridad to empower children from his hometown. “When you’re in the hood, you’re often surrounded by a lot of negativity where people kind of bring you down. You get programmed into this state of mind where you feel like maybe you can’t get out or you can’t progress ... so I try to motivate the youth to stay strong mentally and break those stereotypes,” Royce says.
Royce’s May 2 performance at the Reventón de Verano festival marked his latest move to support the Bronx. Below, Royce opens up about the importance of family, friendship, and community.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Marc Anthony, His Mentor
Elite Daily: Tell me about this photo with Marc Anthony.
Prince Royce: We were at Mark’s house. It was probably four in the morning. I hang out with Marc a lot. He likes to do these home gatherings. A lot of the time, it’s not even [about] music. So, we get together. We talk. We play each other music. We give each other ideas. He does that with a lot of peers. I think it’s great that he’s become a mentor for a lot of us in the industry. A lot of people don’t know this, but Marc meets up with a lot of producers, songwriters, and new artists, which I respect and admire [about him].
ED: How did Marc inspire you in your career, especially as another Latin artist?
PR: [Marc’s] similar to me in the sense that he was born and raised in New York, but still feels very Puerto Rican. He still loves salsa and brought his flavor to Latin music. I identified with that a lot. Although I was born and raised in the U.S., [I’m] still embracing my Dominican roots, my community, Dominican food, and Dominican music. It’s really cool to be bilingual and Marc represents that as well.
ED: As a fan, what was it like collaborating with him on "Adicto?"
PR: It [was] just an honor [and] a learning experience. It’s kind of like you’re sitting there in the studio with him and you’re a sponge. You ask questions. I’ve learned a lot from him in the process of meeting and recording with him through the years. He really is a good inspiration. We’re always listening to each other’s music. [We tell each other], “What do you think? This one’s my favorite. This one not so much. This one’s stronger. You got to drop this one. This one’s fire.”
ED: When and where was this photo taken, and who were you with?
PR: That’s a pimp photo right there. That’s my dad. That’s my older brother. I’ve got a little sister and a little brother, [but] I don’t think they were born yet. That’s a fly picture. I think we were in Queens. Look how happy we look!
ED: What was your childhood like?
PR: I have nothing but positive vibes when it comes to my upbringing. My parents really did a good job with our morals and with taking care of us. Sometimes, [they were] a little too strict, but most of the time, they really looked out for us. All my brothers were hard workers. We all have a good head on our shoulders. We’ve always been family-oriented. There was always someone to call in my family.
ED: How did your parents support your dream of becoming a performer?
PR: I never had the issue of my parents not supporting music. In return, all I had to do was stay in school. I stayed in school until I couldn’t do school no more. They were like, “When you start getting paid for music, then you can drop school.” I stayed in school and they were happy.
ED: Why is it so important for you to represent bachata, the style of dance that originated from the Dominican Republic?
PR: It’s where I’m from and who I am. Sometimes, you think everyone knows what Dominicans from New York sound like and look like but really they don’t. Maybe I think that the whole world knows bachata because it’s where I’m from in New York and the Dominican Republic, but there are still so many people who are still discovering it. It’s felt like my responsibility to continue showing the world where I’m from — my beautiful culture, beautiful country, the way we eat, the way we dance, the way we talk. So I project that in my music.
ED: Your parents sacrificed so much for you as immigrants. How did their perseverance and hard work inspire you in your own career?
PR: It motivates me every day still. It takes a lot of courage for someone to come as an immigrant from anywhere, not just the Dominican Republic. I think looking out for that American dream and that progression and seeing that the risk they took was worth it for them. It gave me and my brothers a better lifestyle. For us, it’s also like, “What can we do for our kids? What can we do in our life to continue to progress?” It definitely started with them. I’m grateful and it’s inspiring to me.
Back to the Bronx
ED: This photo was taken at the Reventón de Verano festival. How were you feeling during this performance?
PR: The coolest thing was to be with the audience and be able to talk to them, drink with them, have fun with them. Some of these people maybe haven’t been to a show in a minute. It was just fun to connect with people and to be on a stage and sing and have a good time.
ED: What was your favorite memory from that night?
PR: Definitely to be in the Bronx. The venue that we were in was a venue that I wanted to check out for a long time, so that was cool. It always feels good to be home and to just drive by those streets. Things are very different [because of the pandemic], but it’s definitely dope. It felt like well over a year since the last time I performed. It feels good to kind of get back into the groove and sing a little bit.
Fans can watch Prince Royce’s full performance at the Reventón de Verano festival below.
In Elite Daily’s I Can Explain… series, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us what really went down behind the scenes. Read more here.