Love is no fairytale, just ask rising pop whiz Jame Minogue. His brand new EP Príncipe Azul – Spanish for Prince Charming – is a glossy dissection of pop culture romance, challenging capitalist conceptions of love while searching for truth within the mirage. From the soothing opening flute notes of the title track, the Dominican-Irish-American crooner sets the stage for sober introspection. However, the shift into buoyant, salsa-pop banger “Hate Being In Love” refocuses the record’s narrative as the evolving emotional journey of a once-cocky player as he begins to find deeper meaning in the game. Príncipe Azul is a journey unfolding across a plethora of musical genres and the occasional heartbreak.
“When I decided to make a whole EP about love, I started out with this naive, materialistic perspective that you often see in the movies,” says Minogue, speaking from his home in Los Angeles, California. “It eventually transitioned into thoughts about a more profound and raw form of love. The kind of love that is based on deep connections with other people. I was trying to peel back the layers of what society has labeled as love.”
Deconstructing social expectations has been a lifelong theme for Minogue, who grew up in the predominantly Latine town of Perth Amboy in New Jersey. He describes his musical path as an uphill battle, constantly faced with racism from neighboring towns, non-existent arts budgets in his school district, and intense scrutiny from his own community. “In that town, we were constantly told music was not a realistic future for us,” he adds. “And especially as Latinos, there was no place for us in that world.”
Of course, like any artist worth their salt, he carried on. He fell in love with music at 7-years old after seeing busking drummers during a family visit to New York City, which led him to plead for his own drum set. Minogue’s immigrant parents – his mother from the Dominican Republic, his father from Ireland – were apprehensive about noise complaints, so they compromised by buying him an electronic drum pad. He would later receive a drum kit from a school friend, but again, his parents mitigated potential neighbor drama by having him learn to play one piece at a time, assembling the complete set within the year. “I thank them now because it was a great way to learn to play the instrument,” he says, “But it also taught me how to earn something.”
Minogue is now 26-years-old, a prolific singer/songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist adept on the drums, guitar, bass, and keys. Rock music laid the foundation for his creative voice, also soaking up diasporic sounds ranging from hip-hop to merengue and bolero along the way. His sleek, textural songs have been compared to the new school of soulful pop crooners like Omar Apollo and Kali Uchis, though influences from chameleonic icons like Sade and Prince are evident at every turn.
“[Growing up], we were constantly told music was not a realistic future for us. And especially as Latinos, there was no place for us in that world.”
Jame Minogue’s musical voraciousness is on full display across Príncipe Azul, finding his sexiness on slinky, bilingual R&B incantation “Minute In The Morning,” and pondering romantic redemption on the bossa nova-soaked “Tu Me Ha Cambiado.” The project’s newest single is the swaggy disco-funk hybrid “You’re Thinking Of Me” — a smirking nod to living in a paramour’s mind rent-free that is accompanied by a retro ‘70s-inspired music video directed by Camila Noriega.
Despite his impressive knowledge and skills, Minogue still needed guidance to achieve the record’s prismatic tropical ambitions. His team put him in contact with acclaimed producers Mark Pelli of reggae-pop group MAGIC! and Omar Tavarez, who brought a distinctly Miami-sound honed, among many places, as Pitbull’s musical director.
“Principe Azul is my first body of work where I’m really collaborating,” reflects Minogue on the making of the project. “I was really passionate about creating a project that encapsulated the music I heard at home, and I knew that to do this right, I needed to work with experts. We made sure to always be in rooms with live instruments. And any programming, we’d do later, so we jammed out the songs, and if it felt good, we recorded. The general rule in the studio is, ‘does it feel good?’”
Among the EP’s many emotional high points, Minogue’s odes to the Dominican Republic feel the most personal. On the 12-second interlude “El Platanero,” he offers a glimpse at childhood summers spent on the island, later giving Juan Luis Guerra a run for his romantiqueo money on bachata torch song “I’ll Get There.” On the cheeky “Morir Sonando,” he salutes one of Quisqueya’s tastiest beverages while fully embodying a Caribbean soca star for one of the record’s most effusive hooks. Even in the run-up to Principe Azul, Minogue’s 2021 single “Santiago” paid homage to his family’s Cibaeño roots while tapping into the lovelorn themes he now handily unspools.
“I feel like this EP only scratches the surface,” he says excitedly. “I wanted to take this opportunity to show people who I am and what they should expect moving forward. And I think that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Listen to Príncipe Azul below.