Recently, with the release of Straight Outta Compton, people are recalling incidents from their own memories about the members of N.W.A. And during this mental exercise, Dr. Dre’s history of domestic violence with women, ranging from his romantic partners to female journalists, came up.
People were wondering if it was going to be addressed in the movie.
And when they saw that it wasn’t, folks wanted to know what Dr. Dre had to say about it.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the super producer and music mogul commented on his past as an abuser.
“I made some fucking horrible mistakes in my life. I was young, fucking stupid. I would say all the allegations aren’t true – some of them are. Those are some of the things that I would like to take back. It was really fucked up. But I paid for those mistakes, and there’s no way in hell that I will ever make another mistake like that again.”
Personally, I’m ok with this apology. For an incident more than 20 years old, that has been settled out of court, I don’t know what more Dre could do. We can only hope that he has since stopped the behavior and his words are as sincere as they appear to be.
This talk about his treatment of women also led the interviewer, Brian Hiatt, to ask about the group’s lyrical content when it comes to addressing and referencing women, you know, the prevalence of words like “bitch” and “ho.”
Ice Cube took the lead on this one:
“If you’re a bitch, you’re probably not going to like us,” he says. “If you’re a ho, you probably don’t like us. If you’re not a ho or a bitch, don’t be jumping to the defense of these despicable females. Just like I shouldn’t be jumping to the defense of no punks or no cowards or no slimy son of a bitches that’s men. I never understood why an upstanding lady would even think we’re talking about her.”
As much as I love me some Ice Cube, this here ain’t it. The whole problem with the words like “bitch” and “ho” is that they’re never reserved for a “certain type of women.” Eventually, they can apply to anyone with a vagina. And it’s not long before “bitch” and “ho” are synonymous with any “woman” or “girl” who’s not your mother or daughter. When men constantly use those words, many of them start to view the women as less-than, mere objects. Which N.W.A. might have been guilty of.
Furthermore, what is an “upstanding” woman? Human beings are, by nature, complex. I don’t know a soul who was always upstanding. Not a single person. So if you catch any woman, even an “upstanding” one on a bad day, she too could be a “bitch.” I don’t know if the members of N.W.A would even describe themselves as upstanding. The point is, they shouldn’t have to in order to be respected.
Whether that was N.W.A.’s intention or not, people, particularly young listeners, aren’t able to make that distinction. But that’s the battle with Hip Hop: free expression. Often, with this type of realness, the good, bad and ugly is exposed, not only in society, but within the artists themselves.
It’s sad some of the old Hip Hop legends won’t ever see the error in their ways, past or present. My hope, though, is that as we evolve as a society, men won’t address women in such derogatory terms and, as a result, it won’t show up in the music.
What do you think of Dr. Dre’s comments and Ice Cube’s rationalization?