Like Toy Soldiers

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"Like Toy Soldiers"
Like Toy Soldiers.jpg
Single by Eminem
from the album Encore
ReleasedJanuary 24, 2005
Format
Recorded2004
GenreConscious hip hop
Length4:56
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Eminem singles chronology
"Encore/Curtains Down"
(2004)
"Like Toy Soldiers"
(2005)
"Mockingbird"
(2005)
Music video
"Like Toy Soldiers" on YouTube

"Like Toy Soldiers" is a song by American rapper Eminem, from his fifth album Encore (2004). "Like Toy Soldiers" received positive reviews from music critics, and peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100. Outside the United States, "Like Toy Soldiers" topped the charts in the United Kingdom and peaked within the top 10 of the charts in 12 countries, including Australia and New Zealand. The song samples "Toy Soldiers" by Martika.

Content[edit]

"Like Toy Soldiers" tells the story of Eminem's attempts to calm a violent community of rappers. Eminem speaks openly about problems with The Source magazine and its editor Benzino, as well as the situation between 50 Cent and Ja Rule and his label Murder Inc., which Eminem felt went far beyond the Jay Z vs. Nas feud.[1] The song finishes as Eminem offers a truce to his enemies. In addition, this song also reveals that Eminem had tried to stop Ja Rule & 50 Cent's feud, but lost it when he heard Ja Rule making fun of his daughter on a track called "Loose Change" – ("The Ja Shit, I tried to squash it, It was too late to stop it, There's a certain line you just don't cross and he crossed it, I heard him say Hailie's name on a song and I just lost it"). In the song "Loose Change", Ja Rule says Eminem claims his then ex-wife is "a known slut" and his mother "a crackhead", and then asks him "so what's Hailie gonna be when she grows up?".[2] "Like Toy Soldiers" was later included on Eminem's compilation album Curtain Call: The Hits in 2005. Throughout his career, Eminem, at most, only alludes to Suge Knight, completing a line in this song, "my intentions were good, I went through my whole career without ever mentioning -." Styles P used the instrumental version in his song "Soldiers Song", in 2006.[1]

As a result of this song, Eminem refused to get himself involved in some of 50 Cent's later feuds, including Jadakiss, Fat Joe (both of whom he collaborated with in 2005), and The Game.

Critical reception[edit]

AllMusic highlighted the song.[3] A positive overview came from J-23: ""Like Toy Soldiers" is among his best work here, from his production (complete with Martika sample), to his gripping recount, assessment and conclusion of the Benzino and Murder Inc beefs."[4] Pitchfork was also positive, calling it:

a public hand-wringing over the feuds that Em and 50 Cent have been drawn into, the consequences of these battles, and-- most importantly-- the toll they've taken, both physically and emotionally. The martial beat is a bit heavy-handed, but it's counterbalanced by the pleasantly surprising chorus' sample of Martika's "Toy Soldiers", perhaps a nod to either Kanye's helium-vocaled samples or the 00s trend toward trance-pop covers of 80s hits.[5]

NME wrote a favorable review:

'Like Toy Soldiers’ is a case in point. The best track of this album, and probably any album this year, it should be appalling. It interpolates (by which we mean ‘steals’) the chorus to a long-forgotten ’80s power ballad by Martika, which would be a surefire route to disaster in anyone else’s hands. Instead, with its martial drumbeat, unashamedly vast-scale soft rock dynamics and that similarly monolithic chorus, it is perhaps hip-hop’s first genuine lighters-in-the-air stadium anthem. And yet it’s probably the most personal track on the album...as Em tries to draw a line under the various beefs he and his cohorts have been embroiled in. “Even though the battle was won/I feel like we lost it/I spent [so much energy] on it/Honestly I’m exhausted”, he admits. If the sheer volume and widescreen sweep of ‘Like Toy Soldiers’ is a cover for this exhaustion, then it sure works.[6]

Rolling Stone Magazine described: "it's really mature, as when the Martika-sampling "Like Toy Soldiers" renounces battle rhyming and its deadly consequences."[7] USA Today noted: "A military drumbeat drives Like Toy Soldiers, in which Eminem offers an explanation for his beef with the Murder Inc. rap clique, The Source magazine and its rapper/owner Benzino, and his part in a dispute between 50 Cent and Ja Rule. He seems to wish none of it had ever happened, and he's ready to move on."[8] RapReviews was less positive: "Continuing to wring out sympathy from his tear-soaked towel of a life, Eminem doubles-up with "Like Toy Soldiers," another self-produced, self-sorry introspection on the Slim Shady saga."[9] The Guardian was happy of sampling: "Like Toy Soldiers, about Ja Rule and Benzino, is similarly brilliant. Set to the album's one genuinely fantastic backing track, involving a military drumbeat and a sample from Martika's forgotten 1980s hit Toy Soldiers, its lyrics switch from truce-calling to belligerent indignation and back again, often in the space of one line."[10] The New York Times described:

"[Like] Toy Soldiers," scheduled to be the next single, recycles the 1980s pop hit by Martika so that Eminem can rehash his beefs with Ja Rule and the Source. But the vitriol is mainly gone, and he sounds sad and clear-eyed, ending the rhyme by proposing a truce: "It's not a plea that I'm coppin'/I'm just willing to be the bigger man/If y'all can [quiet] poppin'/Off at the jaws [with the knockin'],/'Cause frankly I'm sick of talkin'/I'm not gonna let someone else's coffin/Rest on my conscience."[11]

Stylus Magazine, however, is a bit negative: "perhaps you don’t mind that Em ruins maybe the best musical moment on the record, the Martika interpolation of “Like Toy Soldiers”, just so he can recapitulate ad nauseum [sic] the details of his pitiful n-word controversy (and somehow indirectly blame Afrocentrism for his youthful idiocy)."[12] Entertainment Weekly was very critical of the song: "Instead of addressing other matters that extend beyond his immediate universe, he wastes time attacking his sworn enemies at The Source [in both 'Like Toy Soldiers' and 'Yellow Brick Road']."[13] The Boston Phoenix called it a "self-knowing anti-anthem".[14] SPIN, however, seemed to put the song in a different light: "On 'Like Toy Soldiers,' over a stirring, 'Jesus Walks'-style loop of Martika's doleful '80s hit, Eminem brings light, not heat, to a couple years' worth of beefs, from 50 Cent's feud with the Murder Inc. crew to Em's conflict with rapper Benzino and The Source's edit staff, stating his case while resisting the urge to pour gas on any fires."[15]

Music video[edit]

Released on December 3, 2004, the song's video starts with two young boys, one who is white and one who is black, reading a book called "Toy Soldiers," which contains the lyrics of this song. It begins at the hospital where Eminem and other rappers are watching, in despair, the doctors trying to save D12 member Bugz (played by fellow D12 member Proof), who was killed in 1999. Eminem is then seen in a series of scenes rapping the song in a deserted alleyway, before the video goes through a series of scenes showing the various feuds mentioned in the song. They include seeing the news, rappers battling in studios, and street encounters. Near the end, Eminem stands shocked seeing the shooting of Bugz. It switches back to the hospital, where Bugz dies, and finishes at his funeral, which has a choir in which the black child and the white child from when Martika starts to sing.

Cameo appearances in the video include 50 Cent, Luis Resto, Dr. Dre, Obie Trice, and D12. Dead rappers including Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Big L, and Bugz are also shown in animation form at the end of the music video to show the fatal consequences of rap wars.

In a case of life imitating art, Proof himself was shot and killed on April 11, 2006, after an altercation broke out at a nightclub in Detroit, Michigan. "In the year after [Proof] died, I would stare at the ceiling and think about that video (Like Toy Soldiers). Did karma cause that to happen in real life? Did I? You always want to point the finger at somebody else when something like that happens, you know?"[16]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[17]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Like Toy Soldiers"4:56
2."Just Lose It" (DJ Green Lantern remix)3:30
Total length:8:26
Digital EP[18]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Like Toy Soldiers"4:56
2."Rabbit Run" (soundtrack version)
  • Mathers
  • Resto
3:10
3."Like Toy Soldiers" (instrumental)
  • Mathers
  • Resto
  • Marrero
  • Margules
4:43
Total length:12:49
UK CD1[19]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Like Toy Soldiers"4:56
2."Rabbit Run" (soundtrack version)
  • Mathers
  • Resto
3:10
Total length:8:06
UK CD2[20]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Like Toy Soldiers"4:56
2."Rabbit Run" (soundtrack version)
  • Mathers
  • Resto
3:10
3."Like Toy Soldiers" (instrumental)
  • Mathers
  • Resto
  • Marrero
  • Margules
4:43
4."Like Toy Soldiers" (music video)
  • Mathers
  • Resto
  • Marrero
  • Margules
4:56
Total length:17:45
UK DVD[21]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
3."Like Toy Soldiers"4:56
4."Like Toy Soldiers" (making of the video)
  • Mathers
  • Resto
  • Marrero
  • Margules
  • Mathers
  • Resto[a]
3:00
Total length:7:56
German CD Single[22]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Like Toy Soldiers"4:56
2."Just Lose It" (DJ Green Lantern remix)3:30
3."Like Toy Soldiers" (instrumental)
4:43
4."Like Toy Soldiers" (Music Video)
4:56
Total length:18:05
UK CD2[23]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Like Toy Soldiers"4:56
2."Just Lose It" (DJ Green Lantern remix)3:30
Total length:8:26
Notes

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[60] Gold 35,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[61] Gold 45,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[62] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[63] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Like Toy Soldiers by Eminem Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Reid, Shaheem (April 4, 2003). "Ja Rule Calls 50 'Loose Change,' Disses 'Feminem' And Dr. Dre". MTV.com. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  3. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (November 12, 2004). "Encore - Eminem | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  4. ^ J-23 (November 15, 2004). "Eminem - Encore". HipHopDX. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  5. ^ Scott Plagenhoef (November 11, 2004). "Eminem: Encore | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  6. ^ Pete Cashmore (September 12, 2005). "Eminem : Encore". NME. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  7. ^ Robert Christgau (December 9, 2004). "Encore | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  8. ^ Jones, Steve (November 11, 2004). "Eminem's edgy 'Encore' deserves an ovation". USA Today. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  9. ^ Corne, James (November 9, 2004). "Eminem :: Encore :: Shady/Aftermath/Interscope". RapReviews. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  10. ^ Alexis Petridis (November 12, 2004). "CD: Eminem, Encore | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  11. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (November 15, 2004). "All the Time in the World, Slim Shady? That's Scary". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  12. ^ Love, Josh (November 12, 2004). "Eminem - Encore - Review". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on February 9, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  13. ^ Browne, David (November 19, 2004). "Encore". Entertainment Weekly (793): 80. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  14. ^ Soults, Franklin (November 26, 2004). "Eminem: Encore". The Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on October 9, 2015. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  15. ^ Pappademas, Alex (January 2005). "Good-bye, Yellow Brick Road". SPIN: 95–96. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Mathers, Marshall. The way I am.
  17. ^ "iTunes - Music - Like Toy Soldiers - Single by Eminem". Itunes.apple.com. January 24, 2005. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  18. ^ "iTunes - Music - Like Toy Soldiers - EP by Eminem". Itunes.apple.com. January 31, 2005. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  19. ^ "Like Toy Soldiers [CD 2]: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  20. ^ "Like Toy Soldiers [CD 1]: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  21. ^ "Like Toy Soldiers [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Eminem: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  22. ^ "Like Toy Soldiers: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  23. ^ "Like Toy Soldiers (Pock It): Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. September 9, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
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  51. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2005". ARIA. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
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  55. ^ "Jaaroverzichten - Single 2005" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  56. ^ "End Of Year Charts 2005". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  57. ^ "Årslista Singlar - År 2005" (in Swedish). Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
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  60. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2005 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  61. ^ "Danish single certifications – Eminem – Like Toy Soldiers". IFPI Denmark. Scroll through the page-list below until year 2019 to obtain certification.
  62. ^ "British single certifications – Eminem – Like Toy Soldiers". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Like Toy Soldiers in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  63. ^ "American single certifications – Eminem – Like Toy Soldiers". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]