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Eminem's Shady label hits a happy XV

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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For Eminem and his manager, Paul Rosenberg, sometimes it seems like 15 minutes and not 15 years since they started Shady Records. And sometimes it seems longer.

"It depends on the mood I'm in," says Rosenberg, 43, a Farmington Harrison High School and Michigan State University graduate who attended the University of Detroit Mercy Law School. He heads Goliath Artist Management and is president of Shady Records and a partner in the Shady Ltd. clothing line. "But it's been an incredible time."

No doubt; in its 15 years Shady has released 15 titles (not counting Eminem's own albums) and sold 30 million records. In 2002 it also had the distinction of a No. 1 box office movie, the Eminem-starring "8 Mile," at the same time the film's soundtrack and the Academy Award-winning "Lose Yourself" topped their respective charts.

"We're still here, 15 years later," Rosenberg notes. "I think it's gone better than anybody could have expected."

Shady celebrated its 15th anniversary with last month's release of "Shady XV," a two-disc set that looks back on past glories from Eminem, 50 Cent, D12 and others and also sports a dozen new tracks from Shady's current roster, nine of which feature Eminem, including the all-star anthem "Detroit vs. Everybody." The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 148,000.

"It feels like a celebration, like, 'Let's just take a minute and look back on everything that we've accomplished, and let's make people aware of it and celebrate it and be proud of ourselves," says Detroit rapper Royce da 5'9", a member of the Shady group Slaughterhouse who also took the lead in organizing "Detroit vs. Everybody. "

"It reminds me of how much my friends accomplished over the years. We did something positive, and that's always a good feeling."

Rosenberg says he and Eminem, who he began representing in 1997, independently dreamed running their own record companies and carefully carved up areas of responsibility for Shady. "We both like to drive all the time," he notes, "but we figured out early on who's responsible for doing what" -- although Rosenberg adds that both have input into the creative and business sides of the company.

But they do agree on keeping Shady a relatively small enterprise and championing quality over quantity. "The reason we've kept the label boutique is because (Eminem) and I are very hands-on, and because there's only two of us we don't have the capacity to churn out that much product." Despite that, he adds, "We've been prolific. This is our 15th album in 15 years, not including Eminem albums. Add seven or eight of those and we've put out quite a bit of material but kept it small in the sense we don't have a lot of artists."

Shady will enter 2015 with new albums on tap from Nashville-based rapper Yelawolf and Slaughterhouse, though release dates have not yet been determined. Rosenberg says Shady is also interested in making another movie, though "we don't have immediate plans of any kind. But we're always sort of seeing whether something makes sense.

"We just want to be around another 15 years, and longer, and keep the bar high for everything we do."

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