HITS Daily Double


Paul Rosenberg first saw Marshall Mathers at a sparsely attended club gig in 1996. It was, unbeknown to both at the time, the beginning of one of the most stratospheric career trajectories in modern biz history.

Rosenberg, the son of a Detroit-area attorney, grew up infatuated with hip-hop and briefly pursued a rap career of his own on the Detroit scene before getting his law degree. Still, management seemed a more desirable path than drafting contracts. He interned at some labels and soaked up all the knowledge he could about the music industry.

Then, in '96, he saw Eminem. The rapper was at a low ebb at the time; Rosenberg stayed in touch and, after getting his law degree and relocating to NYC, determined that Em had reached another level. He threw his hat in the ring to rep the rapper, beginning a storied partnership. Eminem crashed on Rosenberg's couch in New York "and we just figured it out," as Rosenberg told us for his Rainmakers profile. Rosenberg didn't officially become Em's manager until he'd handed off legal duties to his mentor, veteran barrister Theo Sedlmayr.

A deal with Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre put Em on Aftermath/Interscope; his debut album, The Slim Shady LP, yielded the monster smash "My Name Is," and was certified platinum within months. Next came a deal for an Eminem-Rosenberg imprint, Shady Records, via Aftermath/Interscope. Rosenberg famously declared that Def Jam, which he would helm from 2017-20, was a huge model for Shady.

2000's The Marshall Mathers LP moved 1.7m+ in its debut week, setting a record for a solo artist's first week that stood until Adele dropped her 2015 set 25. Mathers, featuring the monster singles "The Real Slim Shady" and "Stan," has since earned a Diamond certification. The associated Anger Management Tour was a blockbuster that saw the rapper conquering rock fans and hip-hop audiences alike. Em and Dre collaborated on "Forgot About Dre" for the latter's [Chronic] 2001 set, earning a Grammy and a VMA. 2002's The Eminem Show was the top-selling set of that year, shifting a ridiculous 3m in its first month.

Rosenberg ventured into film production with 8 Mile, a fictionalized account of Eminem's early career that put the star, whose experience before a camera hitherto had been limited to some videos, at the center of a major Hollywood feature. "It was much more likely to go wrong than to go right," Rosenberg later recalled, noting that he threw himself into everything from location scouting to casting. But the film was a commercial and critical hit, as was the soundtrack; the cut "Lose Yourself" took home a pair of Grammys and an Oscar for Best Original Song. The ST also introduced Shady's next big artist: 50 Cent. His 2003 set, Get Rich or Die Trying, was another #1 monster.

Eminem's next #1 album, Encore, bowed with 1.5m, but the trappings of fame had clearly taken a toll on him, and Rosenberg elected to step back as the superstar checked into rehab. But the newly sober Eminem soon had yet more #1s with 2009's Relapse and 2010's Recovery, the latter scoring the hits "Not Afraid" and "Love the Way You Lie" f/Rihanna, both of which were subsequently certified as diamond sellers. 2013's The Marshall Mathers LP 2 was another #1 opener and took a Best Rap Album Grammy.

Rosenberg, whose Goliath Artists also shepherded the careers of rappers-turned-reality-TV fixtures Action Bronson and Danny Brown, was by this point considering new label ventures, when the man described by Interscope boss John Janick as "an encyclopedia of hip-hop" was approached to take the reins at Def Jam. He was announced as the label's boss in 2017; by the end of that year Eminem had dropped a new album, Revival; he would headline Coachella the following April. Less than a year after Revival came Kamikaze, another smash that outpaced its predecessor by 200k. All this occurred while Rosenberg was assembling his Def Jam team and overseeing big releases including #1 sets by Kanye West and Logic.

Em dropped yet another chart-topping giant in 2020 with Music to Be Murdered By, which bowed with 275k. Mere weeks later, Rosenberg's exit from the label was confirmed, as he continued overseeing his superstar artist and associated acts and developed plans for a new label venture.