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Prince Royce Returns to His Latin Roots: "Bachata Is Home"

Prince Royce
Prince Royce
Courtesy of Sony Music

These days, Prince Royce is feeling good enough to dance offstage too.

After finding crossover success in 2015 with his debut English-language album, Double Vision, the Dominican heartthrob will head back to Miami's Bayfront Park in support of his latest album, Five, a collection of Spanish-language bachata songs. For Royce, it's a return to the music that made him a certified international superstar.

Royce scored a slew of hit singles off Five, including "Culpa al Corazón," "La Carretera," and this year's Shakira duet, "Deja Vu," which the Colombian superstar also released on her album El Dorado. After a successful return to his bachata roots, it's no surprise that on a recent busy day of interviews, Royce is all smiles and dances while reporters walk into the room.

"Are you ready?" he asks, swiveling his hips goofily to laughs. He certainly seems to be.

"It feels good to be back in bachata," he says between sips of Cuban coffee. "I kind of missed it. I haven't been in the studio in a while recording bachata, so the album was really heartwarming to me."

Royce never planned on leaving Latin music, and he's already planning his next English-language R&B effort. "I don't have a preference of one or the other," he says of juggling between the two music markets. "I think it just challenges me as an artist to do different things. I would like to continue to do other experimental projects outside of bachata in the future. [But] I know my fans and myself. Bachata is home."

Royce also found that alternating between languages and genres improved his songwriting. He wrote or co-wrote every song on Five.

The Bronx-born singer says his success stems, in part, from the increasingly blurring barriers between the Latin music world and the mainstream American music market. Five features collaborations with Latin music megastars such as Gente de Zona and Gerardo Ortiz alongside pop singers Zendaya and Chris Brown.

"I think there's a bigger interest in Latin music now. People are kind of starting to believe a little more. I respect guys like Chris Brown and Zendaya that see the value in the community. I think it's dope that they can come and sing a rhythm that they haven't sang before. Chris Brown sang in Spanish. I think that actually shows love to us."

As the conversation veers to recent identity-centered controversies in the music world and questions regarding perceived racial bias in Grammy voting earlier this year, Royce is diplomatic but agrees an inclusion problem exists.

"I agree we should see variety in general, whether it's black, white, Hispanic, Asian, any color. But I also think that people are always going to have an issue with something. I'd like to see more Hispanics presenting at the Grammys or singing at the Grammys. I mean, was there a Hispanic singing at the Grammys this year?"

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(Although he is not often perceived as a Latin artist, 2017 Grammys performer Bruno Mars is Hispanic. Jennifer Lopez, former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello, and actress Gina Rodriguez represented the Latin community as presenters.)

"I can sit here and complain as well," he continues. I'd like to see more variety in general. We need variety everywhere we go, not just the Grammys."

As the bilingual version of "Despacito" enters its tenth week of chart domination atop Billboard's Hot 100 and artists such as Shakira and J.Lo continue to fluctuate between the Latin and mainstream American markets, Royce's wishes for increasing representation and success as a crossover artist appear ever likelier to come true. It looks as if he'll find plenty of reasons to keep dancing.

Prince Royce. 7 p.m. Sunday, July 30, at Bayfront Park Amphitheater, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-358-7550; bayfrontparkmiami.com. Tickets cost $14 to $66 via livenation.com.

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