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The Portrayal of Theme of Leadership in Like Toy Soldiers

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Like Toy Soldiers

Like Toy Soldiers is a rap song that came out in 2004, and is considered one of the best songs Eminem, or by his birth name Marshall Mathers, has ever produced, and is still popular for fans of the genre today. It is regarded as having some of the most heavy-handed material, as he speaks of various conflicts between different artists and groups within the rap scene. Eminem’s Like Toy Soldiers is a rap/hip-hop song with strong lyrics that give life advice to any person listening, and for this reason, everyone should listen to it as it is a powerful song with genuinely meaningful lyrics. One point that Mathers makes is how he shouldn’t need to bring his crew in battles that he can handle himself, showing that leaders need to be able to handle themselves when needed. He also mentions how he never got into the rap-hip/hop scene for the drama between artists, when he talks about this he is displaying how people should get involved in something with a desire for that action, not for conflicts with others to draw in drama with. Marshall also talks about how he was told to avoid what wasn’t his business, even though it was hurting someone who he was close with, which signifies a great amount of restraint when needed.

Some people would argue that a leader bringing others in to help with confrontation is always favorable, as there is no reason for a task to be kept to one person and make it more difficult for them. This assumption is a misguided thought that leaders should be disagreeing with, as if many others are involved in the conflict it can result in much more damage being done, as the extra persons can also get hurt in the event of something going wrong. “I’d never drag them in battles that I can handle, unless I absolutely have to I’m supposed to set an example” (Mathers, 2004). As Marshall says in his song, there should not be additional people involved, or else he would be setting a poor example of risking those around him when it is unneeded. Like Toy Soldiers shows strong viewpoints to consider if a leader is in the position to choose between handling something by themselves or not.

Eminem does a sound job showing how leaders are to make proper decisions when choosing who to involve with conflicts. The song mentions how leaders are required to decide who should be brought into a confrontation, as those who look up to someone in a leadership role rely on them for guidance regarding what is to come next. “I need to be the leader, my crew looks for me to guide ’em. If some shit ever does pop off, I’m supposed to be beside ’em” (Mathers, 2004). The song tells how Marshall watches for when to react to the threat, and what the appropriate reaction to them is. Like Toy Soldiers gives an excellent idea of how a leader should react to conflicts in regard to a group and shows the listener how to behave in these circumstances.

Like Toy Soldiers talks about how Mathers didn’t involve himself with rap/hip-hop to have feuds between others in the industry. Some might guess that rap/hip-hop is better with drama, as it can create better songs and more meaningful lyrics from the artists themselves, but this type of conflict can lead to people getting hurt, and it does not pay off then. “That was never my object for someone to get killed, Why would I wanna destroy something I help build” (Mathers, 2004). Marshall discusses here in the song about how he doesn’t want to damage what he has been investing in with the last twenty years of his life, and never wants to watch it die. The song displays a great motive for people to not go in a negative direction with whatever it is they are doing, and instead focus on the positives that can keep everything in a productive tone.

Eminem states in the first verse how he avoids the disputes between artists now, as a wrong move could ruin what had been established about the genre. People need to avoid conflicts that can damage relationships and what is built, else it could all be gone after the hostility affects those around them. “And I’m so caught in it I almost feel I’m the one who caused it. This ain’t what I’m in hip-hop for, it’s not why I got in it” (Mathers, 2004). Marshall mentions how he senses that he was the one that caused all the struggle and grief, and how he can’t relate to what is going on as it is not what he was intending in any regard. This shows how people should be considering their choices in matters of conflict involvement since any conflict can have unexpected results that can turn sour. These verses give honest advice to any listener on how leaders need to be able to make those tough decisions regarding hostilities that can be arriving in future ordeals.

Marshall adds on to his verses by referring to his restraint of involvement when someone else is leading the decisions. People might conclude this is not ethical, as he is avoiding the issue and letting the leader take the attack himself without using the potential of others helping, but doing this not only shows strength in restraint but also respect for those superior, noticing that their authority means something to them. “Dre told me stay out, this just wasn’t my beef. So I did, I just fell back, watched and gritted my teeth” (Mathers, 2004). Showing the restraint to avoid involvement when told not to is not a weakness, but a form of respect for those who ask. By showing that someone will abstain from confrontation displays qualities in those doing it, and the song demonstrates this to its listeners.

Within Like Toy Soldiers, it is mentioned that even if it is known that something can go wrong at any moment, that action is not necessarily the right move. When those superior to someone are telling them to restrain themselves from an action, even if the damage could hurt either of them, they should understand that it is not their place to react wrongly to what they are supposed to do. As Eminem says; “While he’s all over t.v. down talkin’ a man who literally saved my life, Like fuck it i understand this is business, And this shit just isn’t none of my business, But still knowin’ this shit could pop off at any minute” (Mathers, 2004), he is suggesting that he controls himself to understand that the situation isn’t his to take care of, and action on his part is wrongful to what he was told. This verse shows how everyone should be respectful of others, and understand their point of view, as they are inclined to understand what they need, and can tell if help is required in that situation.

Like Toy Soldiers shows respectable examples of how people should live their lives regarding interactions with others. The song gives respectable advice for all who listen, and as such everyone should try to understand the lyrics that are quite powerful and meaningful. A clear point made by the song is how leaders should understand when they need to involve their crew, and when to deal with a problem on their own. This distinction shows how someone can understand risks and manage them properly. It also mentions avoiding conflicts within a scene which Eminem helped build and displays how if someone is interested and putting effort into something, going into hostile disputes with others will not help, and is more likely to do harm to anyone involved. Lastly, Like Toy Soldiers gives a superb example of how people need to be able to restrain themselves from battles that aren’t theirs. If someone can’t listen to those involved and understand the gravity of the situation, they cannot properly help the conflict. Eminem does a marvelous job displaying various examples of proper ways to react to conflict situations, and any listener can understand these to get a better outlook on future endeavors.

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The Portrayal of Theme of Leadership in Like Toy Soldiers. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from
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