As many of you know, later this month, on August 14, the highly anticipated Straight Outta Compton biopic will hit theaters.
Personally, I’ll be there.
But as with most biopics, produced by the people the film profiles, there will be a few holes. Holes that will have the real life people looking like heroes, instead of mere men.
And while I’m all for some more portrayals of Black heroes, I also believe in truth and according to Gawker, Straight Out of Compton doesn’t tell all of it.
In a piece called “Remember When Dr. Dre Bashed a Female Journalist’s Face Against a Wall?,” Rich Juzwiak claims that in addition to pushing the women in their lives to the background or periphery of their story, there is also the huge, glaring omission of when Dr. Dre beat “Pump It Up” host Dee Barnes for “making N.W.A. look bad.”
Barnes simply interviewed Ice Cube while he was filming Boyz N the Hood and he made some comments about his former group.
For those who’ve listened to Michel’le’s story, you know that this is not the first recorded incident of Dr. Dre putting his hands on a woman.
The altercation with Barnes happened on January 27, 1991, during an album release party for rap duo Bytches With Problems (BWP).
As Barnes told the Los Angeles Times, back in 1991:
He picked me up by my hair and my ear and smashed my face and body into the wall…Next thing I know, I’m down on the ground and he’s kicking me in the ribs and stamping on my fingers. I ran into the women’s bathroom to hide, but he burst through the door and started bashing me in the back of the head…
In another interview, she gave additional details:
Dre picks me up by my shirt in the front and I can’t even say, ‘Help,’ ‘cause I’m choking. The next thing I know, the guy on my right tries to help me and gets knocked out by Dre’s bodyguard. Then Dre picks me up by my hair and ear and starts slamming my face up against a wall. It was a brick wall.
And while you might think this would be something Dr. Dre and his crew would be ashamed of, a profile of the group in Rolling Stone proved that that wasn’t the case.
MC Ren said, “she deserved it…bitch deserved it.
And then Eazy E: “Yeah, bitch had it coming.”
What did Dr. Dre say?
People talk all this shit, but you know, somebody fucks with me, I’m gonna fuck with them. I just did it, you know. Ain’t nothing you can do now by talking about it. Besides, it ain’t no big thing – I just threw her through a door.
What makes the assault even more vile is that Dre and Barnes had actually been friends before all of this. But if you’ll shoot at the mother of your child, it’s nothing to beat a friend.
Later, in 1992, he told The Source “I didn’t do shit, I didn’t touch her ass.”
Barnes pressed charges, sued Ren and Eazy E for libel before eventually settling out of court for an undisclosed amount.
In 1991, in an op-ed piece for The Source, dream hampton wrote about the incident and spoke about not only Dr. Dre’s actions but misogyny in Hip Hop and society at large.
It infuriates me that witnesses reported that Dr. Dre’s bodyguard held the crowd back as Dee received multiple blows to her womanhood. I find it intolerable when brothers ask, “So what did Dee do?” I will be outraged to learn that Dr. Dre is not underneath jail when this is published. Historically, Black women have been reluctant and intimidated to confront their abuse because of the “division” it would cause within the race and because of the racist, classist institutionalization of the judicial system and the white women’s liberation movement.
Violence against Black women by Black men did not begin with rap music. Sexism did not begin with the black community. These minor revelations are not enough. Sexism exists in the hip-hop generation. Manifestation of sexist behavior is first verbal and mental abuse (BBD, Big Daddy Kane, Too Short, HWA)—it evolves into its inevitable counterpart, physical violence (Dee Barnes, [the mother of three of Flavor Flav’s children] Karen Ross, one out of every four Black women between 18 and 25). Hip-hop music must take responsibility for eliminating the perpetuation of the destruction of the Black community, i.e. the abuse of the Black women. It has no place in revolutionary music.
I don’t have to tell you that dream hampton not only has a point, her message is, sadly, just as true today as it was in 1991. Perhaps the only difference is that an abuser and his friends would never admit to and brag about beating a woman.
Now, an abuser would simply apologize until the country decides he’s sat on the sidelines long enough, been banned from radio play long enough or made enough long money that we all just have to look past it.
Still, I wonder about Gawker’s decision to run this story now. Is it because Dr. Dre has never atoned for brutally beating this woman…and other women? Is it because they wanted to speak as an addendum to the film or are they hoping it will spark a productive discussion about violence against women.
I’m not sure.
To be honest, a part of me wonders if this is just an attempt to dig up dirt, just because being messy is lucrative.
It would nice to know that sometime later in his life Dr. Dre saw someone or sought professional or spiritual help about his propensity to beat women.
But since he’s never said anything of the sort and attempted to flip flop and deny the interaction entirely, perhaps Gawker just wanted to provide a space for him to speak up and out against the heinous actions of his younger self.
What do you think, does Gawker’s piece needlessly stir up drama or is it attempting to shed a light on the past and present issues in our society?
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