“This is probably the closest I’ve ever worked creatively with Eminem on a record, bringing him tracks, throwing him ideas, connecting the dots, helping put the album together.”


An exclusive HITS dialogue with Paul Rosenberg
Shady/Goliath’s Paul Rosenberg has been Eminem’s manager since the beginning, guiding his career to its multi-platinum heights, but with Recovery, he had to revive the hip-hop icon’s career after the desultory response to his last two albums, Encore and Relapse. Using a brand-new slate of producers, and the combined A&R staffs of management, Shady and Interscope, they’ve crafted one of the best albums in Eminem’s career, along with the year’s top sales debut. Too bad Paul had to spell it all out for HITS’ own Recovery patient, Roy “Meshugge Knight” Trakin.

Did you agree with Eminem that his last two albums weren’t quite up to his usual standards?
With respect to Relapse, we were just excited that he was focused and recording music again, that we could get the record out there and not make the fans wait any longer. And I think we accomplished that. He’s a little hard on himself. Even at his worst, Eminem is still far better than most.  He wants everything he does to be received on that level of excitement, wonderment and anticipation as his first couple of albums. He was really smart in realizing what went wrong with Encore and Relapse—he understands people want to connect emotionally to his music. His mission was to create songs that would accomplish that. It’s just good to see that when you make something great, people are still there for it. You can take a misstep, but you can still get back on track.

He raps about making Encore on drugs and trying to flush them out on Relapse. How much was his addiction a factor in his work?
Em was certainly gaining his footing after not being sober for awhile. It took him a bit to get on stable ground and figure out what he wanted to do. After almost overdosing, everything looks and sounds different to you. He was really thrust back into the game and had to adjust.

You went from Dr. Dre as his producer to a variety of different people this time.
The original plan was to have two Relapse albums, but when Em started working with Dre on sessions for the second record in Hawaii, he turned a corner artistically. And at that point, he wanted to keep moving in that new direction. So it was an evolution. “So Bad” was one of the songs from those sessions [the only one on the album produced by Dre]. By the time Marshall started focusing on making a new album, Dre was already working on his own stuff. So we reached out to Just Blaze first, worked on several tracks with him, and that opened the door to the other producers—Boi 1da, DJ Khalil. Those three are the guts of the record. It was a natural progression, a matter of timing. This is probably the closest I’ve ever worked creatively with Eminem on a record, bringing him tracks, throwing him ideas, connecting the dots, helping put the album together. I worked with the A&R guys on Shady, Dart Parker and Riggs Morales, as well as Tracy McNew from management and DJ Mormile at Interscope. It was a real team effort. Prior to this, Marshall had never been open to working with outside producers.

For an album with that many collaborators, it sounds awfully cohesive.
A lot of that goes to Marshall, the way he wrote the songs and sequenced the record. He likes a particular sound, so it’s not like you’re going to get something way different from his other albums.

The success of Recovery proves people will still buy full physical albums.
My goal was to do better than the last album. I believe people are invested in Em as an artist—they’re along with him on the journey. They know, by owning just a couple of songs, they don’t own the experience. When you sit down with the album, and listen to it, that’s when you really see what he’s been up to; you’re checking into his head, where he’s at. That goes along with making important music. Hit songs are fine, but in order to sell albums, you have to do things people care about.

“Love the Way You Lie,” the Rihanna track, sounds like his first crossover hit since 8 Mile’s “Lose Yourself.”
Em wanted to connect with a radio audience this time. He realized the last time that it didn’t make it all the way like he wanted it to. He certainly had that in mind making this album.

How’s Eminem reacting to the album’s success?
He’s really happy with it. He put a lot of work into it. He thought it was what people would be looking for, so the reaction has been gratifying. That his fans love it is the most important thing to him. Em feels he let people down because he didn’t give what he felt he needed to give them. That’s what drove him to make this album.

It’s like he had something to prove on Recovery, to go back to that battler from 8 Mile.
He gets a real kick out of getting a rise out of people—he wants a reaction. Whether you hate it, love it or think it’s hilarious. It’s like he’s throwing the paper airplane in class to see who’s paying attention—that’s how his mind works. It’s not as if he enjoys taunting, but he does like poking people, pushing their buttons. At the same time, this is a grown-up version of Eminem, but not Adult Contemporary by any stretch. It’s an evolved person, who’s evolving musically as well.

Any plans for a more extensive Eminem tour outside of the two stadium concerts with Jay-Z in Detroit and New York, as well as the Epicenter show in Fontana, CA?
We don’t have anything else booked. He loves performing, but he doesn’t love traveling, so we try to figure out a way to make that work. We’d like to find ways he can perform without going to different cities.

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