Sami Drasin/Billboard
1.25.2018

Eminem & Def Jam CEO Paul Rosenberg Cover Billboard’s Power 100 Issue

Eminem and his longtime manager/business partner Paul Rosenberg share the cover of Billboard’s Power 100 issue.

During the in-depth interview, which explores their past and future, Rosenberg explained what he hopes to achieve as the new CEO of Def Jam. “To me, this is an opportunity to do something great in the music that I grew up loving, that I’ve been passionate about since I was 10 years old, and in a lot of ways it’s a dream come true,” he explained, emphasizing “originality, authenticity, cutting-edge artists,” and branding their rappers as rock stars.

“Def Jam is the greatest hip-hop label that has ever existed — I don’t think there’s much argument against that,” he added. “I don’t want anybody to think I want to make it an old-school hip-hop label, because I don’t. I want to follow that blueprint into the future with the kind of artist that exists now.”

The duo also discussed what the move means for their label Shady Records. “The thing about Shady Records is that it’s Marshall’s brand in a lot of ways,” said Rosenberg. “The stuff that we sign and release has to fit within his world. It was never meant to be anything more than a boutique label, which is why we always kept it small. As long as Marshall wants to sign and develop talent and release it, then Shady is going to exist.”

Eminem and Paul Rosenberg

For his part, Slim Shady says he’s staying in touch with new artists like his recent signees Boogie, Westside Gunn, and Conway. “I’m always looking at what everybody’s doing,” said Em. “I would consider myself a lot more in tune that a lot of people think that I am.”

This year, Rosenberg is set to embark on a new chapter with Def Jam, but that doesn’t mean he’s leaving his old life behind. “I have to figure out how to balance my job as a manager, my role with Marshall at Shady, and the huge responsibility of Def Jam,” he explained. “If I figure out that balance, I think everything would be fine, because I’m confident that I can do the job. I just have to find the right mix of time, energy, and focus to be able to do it all and still be a human and have a family.”

Meanwhile, Eminem, who released his latest album Revival last month, said he’s already in “writer mode,” though he didn’t reveal any future plans. Regarding his last project, which earned mixed reviews, Slim said he’s ready to learn and move on. “I think that there are things that we learn from each album, and I think there’s things to be taken away from this album and the reaction to it,” he said.

Elsewhere in the article, Em and Rosenberg reflected on their early years, the evolution of their bond, and their mutual distaste for President Donald Trump. Read additional quotes from the interview below.

On Election Night: “I called it just from the rallies he was having when he first started running. Because just watching the impact he has, they were fanatics. There is something to be said about the person who really felt like he might do something for them — and he just fucking duped everybody. I know that Hillary [Clinton] had her flaws, but you know what? Anything would have been better [than Trump]. A fucking turd would have been better as a president. When I [put out ‘The Storm’], I felt that everybody who was with him at that point doesn’t like my music anyway. I get the comparison with the non-political-correctness, but other than that, we’re polar opposites. He made these people feel like he was really going to do something for them. It’s just so fucking disgusting how divisive his language is, the rhetoric, the Charlottesville shit, just watching it going, ‘I can’t believe he’s saying this.’ When he was talking about John McCain, I thought he was done. You’re fucking with military veterans, you’re talking about a military war hero who was captured and tortured. It just didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. And that’s some scary shit to me.”

On “The Storm”: “I knew it would get a reaction, obviously; that’s what I rap to do. But where I was coming from in that cypher was a genuine place in my heart. I [hesitate] to say [I have] hatred in my heart for him, but it’s serious contempt. I do not like the guy.”

On Losing Part of His Fan Base: “At the end of the day, if I did lose half my fan base, then so be it, because I feel like I stood up for what was right and I’m on the right side of this. I don’t see how somebody could be middle class, busting their ass every single day, paycheck to paycheck, who thinks that that fucking billionaire is gonna help you.”

On Comparisons to Trump: “I know I say a lot of fucked-up shit. But a lot of shit is said in jest, it’s tongue-in-cheek, and it has always been that way through my whole career — saying shit to get a reaction out of people. It’s my artistic license to express myself. Last time I checked, Trump isn’t an artist and doesn’t have an artistic license. I’m not the fuckin’ president.”

On the Evolution of Their Bond: “I just hate him more. [Rosenberg laughs.] We’ve been through a lot of shit, ups and downs — album releases, my overdosing.”

On Learning From Revival: “You get all kinds of feelings. I think that there are things that we learn from each album, and I think there’s things to be taken away from this album and the reaction to it. Were there too many songs? Were there too many features? There were certain songs like ‘Tragic Endings’ and ‘Need Me’ where I felt like lyrically they would give the listener a second to breathe. I spend a lot of time writing shit that I think nobody ever gets.”