Eminem’s manager is the first to acknowledge that the rapper is not exactly rock n’ roll by definition — but also that he deserves his upcoming spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“In the traditional sense does Marshall [Mathers] do rock n’ roll? Of course not,” says Paul Rosenberg of Goliath Artists, who met Eminem in 1995 at Detroit’s famed Hip Hop Shop and began managing him shortly thereafter. “But I think if you look at what rock n’ roll came from and what hip-hop was created from, they stem from the same musical roots, the same musical tree — but at the same time very different in style, form, culture. If you think about those aspects and just the emotion, and then you combine that with how many rappers there already are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I would say that he certainly fits.”
Eminem will be part of the Rock Hall’s class of 2022, inducted on Saturday (Nov. 5) at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. He’ll join the other performer inductees that night — Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and Carly Simon — and he’ll become part of the Hall’s hip-hop corps that also includes Run-D.M.C. (whom Eminem inducted in 2009), LL Cool J (whom he performed with during last year’s ceremony), The Notorious B.I.G., N.W.A, Public Enemy, Tupac Shakur and Jay-Z.
In doing so, he also becomes part of the ongoing discussion about whether rappers belong in the Rock Hall.
“It’s an odd sort of thing, sure,” the New York-based Rosenberg, who partners with Eminem in the Shady Records label and clothing line and other endeavors, tells Billboard. “It’s something that I think a lot of people are struggling with, especially as time goes on because the face of music has changed a lot, and it continues to evolve. If it were just strictly rock n’ roll by traditional standards I think they would be hard-pressed to find enough people to induct 10, 15, 20 years from now. So I think they have to change with the times and not bend their beliefs but change their way of thinking a bit. I think the fact that they have inducted people like LL and Run-D.M.C. is great. I think (Eminem) would like to see a lot more rappers get recognized in the same fashion.”
Rosenberg — who is careful to state that he does not speak for Eminem — says the two of them first thought about the rapper getting into the Rock Hall back when he inducted Run-D.M.C. “We had thought about it – ‘Wait a minute, eventually this is maybe gonna be you…’,” recalls Rosenberg. But the thought quickly faded. “I didn’t even think about something like this for many years,” he says, “until at some point somebody mentioned to me, ‘Y’know, eligibility for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is 25 years after you release your first album.’ This is probably three, four years ago, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute…Oh boy, that’s not too far away.'”
Eminem’s credentials are certainly manifold – five No. 1 Hot 100 hits, 22 top 10 Hot 100 hits, 10 albums that have debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, 15 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award and an Emmy (which means he’s just a Tony Award shy of an EGOT).
To Rosenberg, meanwhile, the Rock Hall induction is “not just one of the trophies in the case — it’s one of the big trophies in the case. It’s a significant milestone. It’s a big part of somebody’s legacy, I think, to get that recognition. And it was like, ‘Oh, wow, this is the first time on the ballot.’ That’s a big honor. When you look back at your resume it’s up there with saying you won an Oscar, that level of recognition.” And without putting words in the rapper’s mouth, Rosenberg does acknowledge that Eminem was not displeased.
“As you know Marshall is an extremely humble guy and he doesn’t love people fawning over him in that way,” explains Rosenberg, who was also CEO of Def Jam Recordings from January 2018 to early 2020 and now heads Goliath Records in joint venture with Universal Music Group. “But like anybody else who works hard at what they do, he appreciates being recognized for it. So he felt good about it. To say what it means to him, you have to hear him when he gets up on stage.”
The induction caps a busy 2022 for Eminem that’s included a Super Bowl LVI halftime performance (which brought him the aforementioned Emmy), collaborations with Snoop Dogg, DJ Khaled, Cordae and CeeLo Green (the latter a Dr. Dre-produced track for the Elvis film soundtrack), a second greatest hits album, Curtain Call 2, and a recently announced 20th anniversary edition of the 8 Mile film soundtrack. “It’s sort of a big, celebratory, legacy year,” Rosenberg notes, “but at the same time Marshall is continuing to be a frontline recording artist. You don’t want to look like you’re always looking back when at the same time you’re trying to create and move forward. It’s a little bit of a difficult balance, and for him it can get a little frustrating. He doesn’t want to seem like he’s done being a current recording music artist, because he very much is. It’s just about figuring out the right way to walk that line.
“If you look back in most recent years, his output has been pretty significant in terms of how many albums he’s released. I don’t think he needs a reason to continue to record. He’s very consumed with the process of creating, and he never really stops recording.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be simulcast Saturday (Nov. 5) on SiriusXM’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Radio channel (310) and on Volume on the SXM App. HBO will film the event to air at 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 18.