Jacob Perez, or as he is more popularly known, Princeton Perez, is an American singer-songwriter, professional dancer, and actor formerly affiliated with the boy band ‘Mindless Behavior’. He started giving auditions at a very early age, appearing in his first set of advertisements at the age of 11 for Nike, McDonald's, and Sketchers. At around the same time, he was cast in the music videos for two songs by the band ‘Gym Class Heroes’: ‘Shoot Down the Stars’ and ‘Cupid’s Chokehold.’ He was set to play the role of Corbin Bleu in the movie ‘High School Musical 3’, but had to turn it down after the formation of ‘Mindless Behavior’. As part of the group, he had collaborated with the likes of Diggy Simmons, LL Cool J, R. Kelly, Lil Twist, and Jacob Latimore. Besides singing and dancing, Princeton can play piano and guitar. In 2011, his group was chosen to open for Janet Jackson on her ‘Number Ones: Up Close & Personal Tour’ on some of her North American concerts.
The initial concept of ‘Mindless Behavior’ is attributed to the group’s future manager Lakeisha Gamble who approached Walter Millsap (who has worked with Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Jennifer Lopez in the past) about forming a boy band. They convinced Vincent Herbert, the record executive and founder of Streamline Records (an imprint of Interscope Records), to come on board with the idea. Gamble, Millsap, Herbert, songwriter Candice Nelson, and choreographer David Scott held open auditions in California in 2008 to find talents among local youths. Scott had worked with Princeton before and Gamble had seen him in ‘Cupid’s Chokehold’. Although Princeton was worried that he wouldn’t get the part after the audition, he was approved the same night. He also met the second member of the group, Roc Royal, at the audition. Within the next few months Prodigy and Ray Ray joined the group.
The quartet rigorously trained for the next two years, developing their musical and performing skills under the watchful scrutiny of Herbert and Millsap before making an appearance on ‘The Today Show’ to sing the track ‘My Girl’ in November 2010. They released their debut album, ‘#1 Girl’’ on 20 September 2011 through ‘Interscope Records’. It opened at number 7 on the ‘US Billboard 200’ album chart.
In 2010-11, the group toured with The Backstreet Boys, Jason Derulo, and Justin Bieber, and performed at the inaugural ‘BET Closer to My Dreams Tour’ alongside Diggy Simmons, Trevante, Jawan Harris and others. They were the first African American boy band to perform at the White House twice. In July 2012, they launched the ‘#1 Girl Tour’ that would cover 25 cities. Their second album, ‘All Around the World’ was released on March 12, 2013. It topped the ‘US R&B’ chart on its debut. ‘#officialMBmusic’, their third album, was released through ‘Epic Records’ on June 24, 2016.
The group had been going through significant changes in the meantime. They were interested in doing projects outside the group, and as in Princeton’s case, he was looking to pursue other careers not related to music. Ironically, he would be the only original member left at the time of the group’s official disbandment in 2017. Since then, he has been working on his first solo project.
‘Mindless Behavior: All Around the World’ is a documentary that was made about the world tour which they embarked on after their second album. Princeton also acted as Christopher Arnold in the 2017 film ‘Misguided Behavior’.
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A vegetarian and an animal rights activist, Princeton is a proud supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and all its efforts to end the mistreatment and abuse of animals. He was the winner of the ‘2015 PETA Hottest Vegetarian Celebrity’ award alongside Zendaya.
Controversies & Scandals
Princeton was involved in a feud with former Vine star Jay Versace. According to reports, Versace was fed up with the intense and scathing DMs that Princeton sent him on Twitter, and threatened to post them on the social media platform if he (Princeton) didn’t stop. He didn’t and Versace went ahead and posted the messages, effectively outing Perez as gay in the process. Princeton didn’t deny it, he wrote back, “Rumors will be rumors and I’m not in a closet I don’t need to be. I’m being myself I don’t have to broadcast anything.” The entire incident drew ire and criticism from the public, who while agreed that Princeton was definitely out of line, stressed that Versace had no right to do what he did. Versace, who himself came out in December 2016, has since apologised for the entire incident.
Princeton was born on 21 April, 1996 in Downey, a city located in south-east Los Angeles County in California, USA to an African-American father and Hispanic mother. Teresa Perez, his mother, raised him on her own after his father left them when Princeton was a child. He has a half-sister, Jasmine. He graduated from high school in 2014.
As Perez loved to “study musical history, and collect musical facts” his production company gave him the nickname ‘Princeton’.