Over the past 13 years, Detroit native Paul Rosenberg has become one of the music industry’s most prominent artist managers and record label executives thanks to a combination of sharp business acumen and a savvy ear for talent. He is the founder and CEO of Goliath Artists Inc. — the powerhouse New York-based management firm that handles the multi-platinum careers of global hip-hop superstar Eminem and reunited pop-punk band Blink-182 — as well as President of Shady Records, the record label he launched with Eminem that has released breakthrough albums by such hip-hop acts as 50 Cent, D12, Obie Trice, and Bad Meets Evil (Eminem’s collaboration with Royce Da 5’9”). In addition to overseeing his current projects, which include acting as co-producer for Eminem’s SiriusXM satellite radio station Shade45, Rosenberg also devotes his time to nurturing RapRadar.com, the premiere online destination for the latest news, music, and video related to hip-hop culture that Rosenberg launched with esteemed journalist/author Elliott Wilson.
In possession of an encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop ever since becoming enthralled with it as a teen, Rosenberg first dipped his toe into the music industry as an aspiring artist, rapping under the stage moniker Paul Bunyan. While attending Michigan State University, Rosenberg partnered up with a DJ who lived in the dorm next door named Kevin Bell, who went by DJ Head, and eventually signed to a label owned by Detroit Piston John Salley, who had also signed Slum Village. Rosenberg and Bell received their tutelage in beat-making from Slum Village’s J Dilla, the late hip-hop producer who went on to work with such influential artists as De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. Rosenberg, realistic about his prospects of making it as a white rapper in a post-Vanilla Ice world, decided to attend law school and pursue a career as an entertainment lawyer. While in law school at the University of Detroit, he became acquainted with a friend of DJ Head, a rhymer named Proof who had made a name for himself as a battle-rapper and hosted weekly open mic sessions at The Hip Hop Shop on 7 Mile Road.
At the end of 1995, Proof introduced Rosenberg to his friend Marshall Mathers, a quiet, humble kid who went by the stage name Eminem. Rosenberg purchased Eminem’s first independently released album, Infinite (which he was selling on cassette for six dollars), and kept in touch with him after moving to New York to study for the bar exam and find a job. Rosenberg was working for a personal-injury defense firm when Eminem sent him a cassette of some new material he had been working on (which would eventually become his next independent release, The Slim Shady EP). Blown away by the power, rawness, and intricacy of Eminem’s voice and flow, Rosenberg told him he’d do whatever he could to get him a record deal, determined to help Mathers prevail despite the industry’s belief at the time that rap music made by white people was neither credible nor commercially viable.
Throughout 1997, Rosenberg pounded the pavement, personally delivering Eminem’s records to DJs at every club that’d let him in the door, and persuading local record stores to sell Infinite and the 12” single “Just Don’t Give A Fuck” on consignment. He also convinced Eminem to participate in a Los Angeles freestyle battle called the Rap Olympics. Eminem’s second place finish led to an assistant to Interscope Records President Jimmy Iovine passing The Slim Shady EP along to his boss, who played it for record producer Dr. Dre. Putting his law degree to good use, Rosenberg negotiated Eminem a joint label deal with Interscope Records and Dr. Dre’s company Aftermath Entertainment. Soon after, while Eminem was recording his breakthrough album The Slim Shady LP with Dre, Rosenberg transitioned to an official position as Eminem’s manager and launched his company Goliath Artists, Inc. in 1998.
The rest, of course, is history. In February 1999, Eminem announced himself as a major commercial and critical force with The Slim Shady LP, which went on to 4x-platinum certification and established Mathers as an innovative stylist and a polarizing lightning rod for controversy with its graphic lyrical content. Later that year, Rosenberg and Eminem launched Shady Records as a vehicle to release music by hip-hop artists who didn’t fit the mold, such as D12, made up of members of Eminem’s Detroit crew (their debut album Devil’s Night bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart in 2001), as well New York rapper Curtis Jackson, known as 50 Cent, who went on to massive commercial success with his multi-platinum Shady Records/Aftermath Entertainment albums Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and The Massacre. Shady Records also released the soundtrack to the film 8 Mile, a 2002 semi-autobiographical account of Eminem’s life for which Rosenberg served as an executive producer. The soundtrack included the Grammy-winning hit single “Lose Yourself,” which won an Academy Award for “Best Original Song” and was later featured in a critically acclaimed 2011 Super Bowl XLV advertisement for Chrysler that paid tribute to the resilience of Detroit in the face of economic hardship.
Rosenberg continued to maneuver on behalf of his friend and business partner Eminem, who has dominated pop and hip-hop charts around the world with a series of No. 1 albums including a pair of consecutive diamond-certified releases, The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show, as well as Encore in 2004, the same year he and Rosenberg launched the SiriusXM satellite radio station Shade45. When Eminem took a break from his music career in 2005, Rosenberg produced two documentaries, Eminem Presents: The Anger Management Tour and Eminem: Live From New York City, as well as the 2005 motion picture drama Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ starring 50 Cent. (Rosenberg has also served as an executive producer for the MTV series Gone Too Far and Fuse’s A Different Spin With Mark Hoppus.)
In 2009, Rosenberg oversaw Eminem’s return to the music business after a five-year hiatus during which time Mathers struggled to conquer his addiction to prescription medication, a subject he tackled on his subsequent two albums, Relapse and 2010’s Grammy Award-winning Recovery. The latter debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart and became not only the best-selling album of 2010 in the U.S., but also the best-selling digital album of all-time, propelled by its No. 1 singles “Not Afraid” and “Love The Way You Lie,” featuring Rihanna, which spent seven consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, sold more than 9.3 million downloads worldwide, and earned five Grammy Award nominations.
Rosenberg continued to steer Eminem through his triumphant comeback, putting together a pair of co-headlining stadium shows with hip-hop star Jay-Z at Detroit’s Comerica Park and New York’s Yankee Stadium in September 2010. Also last year, Eminem resumed collaborating with D12’s Royce Da 5’9”, calling the project Bad Meets Evil, which released its debut album Hell: The Sequel on Shady Records/Interscope in June. The album landed Eminem at No. 1 for the second time in a year, the first time in five years an artist has scored two No.1 albums within a 12-month period.
This year, Rosenberg has a full plate managing Eminem (who has sold more than 85.6 million albums worldwide), The Knux, and The Alchemist, as well as co-managing Blink-182 (which will release a new album this fall), and running Shady Records, which will release upcoming albums by hip-hop supergroup Slaughterhouse and Alabama rapper Yelawolf. He will also devote his energy to the continued success of RapRadar.com, which has risen to become one of the most well-read and respected hip-hop websites since its inception in 2009.