Anyone who knows anything about Marshall Mathers knows that he is a genius lyricist. He could very well be considered the greatest hip-hop/rap lyricist of all time. Some would disagree with that and some of you might already be convinced. For those who don't know, I present “Like Toy Soldiers”, a track that gives me goosebumps even today even after a decade since its release.
"Like Toy Soldiers" first appeared on Eminem's fifth studio album. The album was titled 'Encore' and was released on November 12, 2004. The album was released on the Dr. Records label. Dre's Aftermath. The album went quadruple platinum within a month of its release. To this day, 'Encore' is considered one of the greatest rap albums of all time.
"Like Toy Soldiers" largely addresses the disputes that took place in the music industry, specifically hip hop, and how these disputes led to the end of their lives. Eminem speaks emotionally in the song about how frustrated, sad and angry he is at what artists do to each other. Compare Hip Hop fights to a battlefield. Eminem and other artists are toy soldiers in the field, who are taken to war to die.
Watch Eminem's "Like Toy Soldiers" music video
“Like Toy Soldiers” review, song meaning and lyric analysis
The chorus of this track is very catchy and sums up what Em wants to say.
This hook is taken from Martika's “Toy Soldiers”. However, Eminem also makes it work for "Like Toy Soldiers". He talks about how artists are taken to war like tin soldiers: tin soldiers are expendable, they have no emotions, they have no relatives, they don't have blood, sweat or tears, children use tin soldiers as they like. , In and others. artists kill themselves like emotionless plastic toys.
The struggles continue and more and more people are drawn into them. Some lose their lives and families in the process. But does it ever stop? He keeps moving and the tin soldiers keep falling.
Eminem is a soldier. Soldiers receive orders and rush blindly onto the battlefield while captains issue orders from the safety of their air-conditioned bunkers. Eminem expresses that he had no control over the fights that were going on. He was simply a soldier caught in the crossfire.
By the time his fifth album was released, Eminem was already a worldwide phenomenon. He was the white rapper. Everyone is watching him; naturally, he had to maintain his composure. Lesser artists were free to say and do whatever they wanted. But not Eminem, all eyes were on him.
Eminem had a brief falling out with Benzino, the rapper. Benzino released "Pull Ya Skirt Up" and Eminem responded with "Bully", "The Sauce" and "Nail The Coffin", with Benzino never again being affiliated with Eminem. However, when the dust settled, Benzino was a little more popular than before and Em was left with a black mark on his career.
Eminem is a lyrical genius. There is possibly no one who can beat him in a lyrical rap battle. He is aware of and relies on that fact. However, he regrets having to associate his 'crew' and friends in his battles, even though he has control over them. Eminem is the head of Shady Records and his team includes D12, Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse and has included the likes of Obie Trice and 50 Cent. Eminem is obligated to set an example for them, because if he went into battle, the rest of the team would follow like toy soldiers.
Eminem and Ja Rule started a feud in association with the feud that 50 Cent had with Ja. Eminem may have tried to keep the match from escalating, but Ja proceeded to attack 50 Cent, Eminem and Dre in "Loose Change". Eminem would have accepted Ja insulting him, but he crossed the line. The line associates Em's daughter Hailie in the same range. Ja says, "Um, you say your mom's a crackhead and Kim's a notorious slut / So what's Hailie gonna be when she grows up?" It was a cheap move and a bad career move. Is Ja Rule still alive? I have no idea.
Jay-Z and Nas had one of the biggest musical rivalries in the past. Em says his feud with Ja Rule has gotten uglier than Jay and Nas' diss, mostly because Ja claims Eminem's daughter will become a drug addict and a prostitute.
Eminem cut Ja Rule on many songs after the feud began. I can only imagine the mental exhaustion all of this caused Em to fight back. And he says he was exhausted after the dust settled.
Eminem was so involved in the matches that it almost looked like he started the match. But, in fact, he never started any of them. Benzino attacked Em first, and Ja Rule belittled Eminem for being associated with 50 Cent. But in the end, it got so personal that it felt like Em started it. Eminem says he's not in Hip Hop to kill each other. He's an amazing lyricist, he knows he wants to use that for better things than badmouthing other artists.
Eminem could be talking about Ja Rule's career being dead here because no one has died on any Eminem related issue. However, he could be talking about other artists who have since died, such as Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G and Bugzz. Many say this phrase refers to the death of Em's best friend Proof, but he was shot years after this song was released.
Eminem is an artist who has done a great service to the rap and hip hop genres. We can consider him a pioneer in the mainstreaming of Hip Hop and Rap. So why would you want to destroy it?
Suge Knight is just one problem. If you've watched the movie 'Straight Outta Compton', you'll understand the fight Suge had with Dr. Dre and how fierce she is. Suge Knight probably won't limit you to a card battle if you get dragged into the meat. So Em was careful to leave him out of his entire music career, as Eminem was working with Dr. Dre at the time. Even in this verse, the name 'Suge' is omitted. If Eminem had tried to help Dre at that point, he would just be like a toy soldier.
The last part of the first verse describes the rivalry with Suge Knight and Dr. Dre and how Eminem handled it all.
If Eminem had been called out, he probably would have gotten into a nasty fight with Suge. But for some reason, both sides were left out. Eminem was working with Dr. Dre when the rivalry between Dre and Suge escalated. But it all started before Eminem. Then Em says she chose not to talk about something she basically didn't know: she doesn't know the ins and outs of the feud. Even Dre told Em to stay out of it, and she did. doctor Dre paved the way for Eminem to become a global phenomenon. Eminem has shown his gratitude to Dre on many occasions for this. So it hurt to see Suge Knight shoot Dre. The dispute between Dre and Suge was all business. It was mostly about Dr. Dre leaving Suge's label 'Death Row Records'. Dre's departure was a big loss for Suge from a business standpoint. Dre formed the Aftermath record label afterwards and later signed Eminem.
After this fascinating journey, Em takes us to the second verse of "Like Toy Soldiers".
The song "Like Toy Soldiers" says that there were simpler times in hip hop history where rap battles were confined to the stage and it was an "acceptable" insult. But things have escalated now. Wealthy performers are also powerful and will stop at nothing to survive offstage. Especially when you drag someone's kids into the fray and snub them in such an embarrassing way that it gets out of hand. It's not just words anymore, it's bullets. Once you mention someone's name in a song, it's not rap anymore, it's an insult. So you have to be careful what you put in the lyrics. This could be why Em divulged Suge's name in "Like Toy Soldiers".
This excerpt talks about the rivalry between 50 Cent and Ja Rule. When Ja shot 50 early on, Dre and Em sat down with 50 Cent and calmed him down and asked him not to chase him. But the release of Ja Rule's "Loose Change" sent 50 Cent out of control. And even Eminem liked it, let him have it. "Loose Change" also involved Em in the dispute. So they both killed Ja Rule's career. Like toy soldiers, they warred without looking back or forward.
That isrefers toVeal with Benzino. He was the editor of a magazine called The Source.
Benzino profited from the dispute with Eminem. The dispute basically shed some light on The Source magazine and probably sold a few hundred copies.
The irony is that Eminem was featured in The Source magazine when Em didn't have a record label. Eminem says the article shed some light on him. Then Benzino spoiled the game by trying to criticize Eminem. There was no logic to it.
The owner of The Source magazine got mad at Eminem because of the dispute with Eminem. Em was so tired of this childish game at the time. Thus, several harsh words express how he felt about being shot by The Source magazine.
As the rivalry with Benzino increased, so did the 1950s rivalry with Ja Rule. Murder Inc. was Ja's record label. 'We' here means Aftermath Records. So now it's a battle between labels.
This refers to the dispute by association that practically involved everybody in everybody's disputes. D12 was sure the toy soldiers would go to the front lines and die for Eminem. They probably didn't even need to be ordered to do this. Eminem had to give orders for them to back off as it would just be an unnecessary fight between unnecessary parties. Runyon Avenue is in Detroit, where the members of Em and D12 grew up. They all had Eminem's back. They were loyal, like toy soldiers. Awards were the last thing on Em's mind right now.
But Eminem doesn't want other people involved in his fights, because most of them end up with someone getting hurt or worse. He says it's not worth it.
Nath from Genius.com explains the last line further:
"Perfect" is not the correct way to use the superlative perfect. Rather it should say "more perfect". But he uses the wrong form on purpose, to show he's being ironic: he says he can't think of a "more perfect" form of WORD, even though he knows full well it's wrong. He basically plays with a contradiction between what he says and what he really thinks 🙂
We don't call him lyrical genius for nothing and “Like Toy Soldiers” is a good example of that. Well, we haven't even talked about the flow and syllables of this song.
If this trend keeps up the trend of artists getting killed for nothing, Eminem is even willing to tell them "I love you all" if it puts an end to it. Gangsta rap can be fun to say and curse, but it ends in blood and terror. Eminem says he's walking away from all the fights he's had, has and will have in the future. I don't think Eminem has had a serious falling out with anyone since then (except maybe Slim Shady himself).
Eminem doesn't back down. He's taking the high road. He is not a coward. He's fed up with everything. If they can't stop his jaws from showing, Eminem will. Nobody can have a one-party dispute.
Eminem couldn't stand the thought of someone dying because of him. That's why Eminem was very specific about keeping his loyal soldiers out of his battles.
We know how hard it was for Eminem when his best friend, Proof, was shot dead in a street. It almost drove Eminem crazy. If Proof had died because of Eminem's beef, we probably wouldn't have an Eminem left today. Underneath all the harsh lyrics and outward appearance, Eminem is a loving human being.
There you have it... One of the best hip-hop songs explained line by line for the good of mankind. Hip hop violence is very low today. But then there are the ethnic and racial wars. It just never ends. People find a crazy way out to do their dirty deeds at different times.
“Like Toy Soldiers” is definitely one of Eminem's best lyrical works and possibly anyone in the hip-hop industry as well. The sensitive subject matter it tackles makes it all the more valuable as a work of art.
What do you think of "Like Toy Soldiers"? Did I miss something? Do you have a different interpretation? The comments section is open for you.
"Like Toy Soldiers" Full Lyrics
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