Second single from Eminem's underwhelming 'Encore' album, 'Like Toy Soldiers' replicates the structure of 'Stan' by using a sampled vocal part as a chorus/link between Eminem's rapped verses, in this case the main chorus line from Martika's 1989 hit 'Toy Soldiers'. But whereas Dido's "My tea's gone cold, I'm wondering why I got out of bed at all" on Stan added to the doom of that song's gloomy, wet Sunday atmosphere , Martika's (here slightly sped up) "Step by step, heart to heart, left right left, we all fall down" provides a secure foothold on what's basically an Eminem soliloquy on the various ongoing beefs within the hip hop community (which gives Martika's "Bit by bit, torn apart, we never win, but the battle wages on for toy soldiers" a satirical bent in context).
"Now it's just out of respect for not runnin' my mouth, and talkin' about something that I knew nothing about. Plus Dre told me stay out, this just wasn't my beef, so I did, I just fell back, watched and gritted my teeth" ; 'Like Toy Soldiers' is personal, perhaps too much so - if you know the story and the personalities behind the lyrics then you can turn the key and unlock the secrets, but to the layman fan just here for the music then he may as well be rapping in Greek. Past digs at Britney or Fred Durst are one thing, but the machine gunned references to "The Source", "Murder inc" "Benzino" and "the Ja shit" etc. renders 'Like Toy Soldiers' introverted and cryptic to the point of impenetrability to anyone the wrong side of the tent watching Eminem pissing out. And while he still dazzles in his sparky rhymes and wordplay over a sparse canon picked out on a piano, there's precious little of this trademark wit or bite on show to lighten the load. 'Like Toy Soldiers' is very much the curveball in Eminem's back catalogue, one that plays out like a page from a private journal and relies as much on Martika's sample for it's success as Dido's subsequent career depended on his use of one of hers.