In the lead-up to the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, a number of writers have done the necessary, unpretty work of reminding us that Dr. Dre has a history of assaulting women. A recent sharp article goes into detail about three instances—Michel'le, Tairrie B and Dee Barnes. Michel'le told Power 105.1's Breakfast Club in March, "I had five black eyes, I have a cracked rib, I have scars that are just amazing." In July, Gawker went deep on the Barnes case, where Dre cornered the journalist at a party and savagely attacked her.
The group's eventual explanation, in an interview? She "tried to make us look stupid, tried to play us." Dre pled no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge. Several weeks ago, he told Rolling Stone, "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. ... But I paid for those mistakes, and there's no way in hell that I will ever make another mistake like that again."
Now, in the week following Straight Outta Compton's $60 million opening weekend, Dee Barnes has written 2,700 devastating words for Gawker. She reflects on her history with the group—she knew N.W.A socially, says they "became my brothers"—and what happened during and after the attack she suffered at the hands of the now-50-year-old, now-almost-a-billionaire producer-rapper.
"Dr. Dre straddled me and beat me mercilessly on the floor of the women’s restroom at the Po Na Na Souk nightclub in 1991," Barnes writes. Later, she adds that she genuinely wondered if Dre was about to kill her—all over a perceived slight from a television segment Barnes tried to have scrapped—and that he "had me trapped in that bathroom; he held the door closed with his leg."
Barnes watched Straight Outta Compton for the Gawker piece and came out with the verdict that director F. Gary Gray's decision to omit the assault from the film was correct, even if he has waffled about his reasoning. "The truth is too ugly for a general audience," Barnes writes. She doesn't let Gray—the man behind Friday, Set It Off, The Italian Job—off the hook for glossing over N.W.A's misogyny, though:
"Accurately articulating the frustrations of young black men being constantly harassed by the cops is at Straight Outta Compton’s activistic core. There is a direct connection between the oppression of black men and the violence perpetrated by black men against black women. It is a cycle of victimization and reenactment of violence that is rooted in racism and perpetuated by patriarchy."
At this point it's incumbent upon any interested (even mildly interested, or nervous, or suspect) parties to go read Dee Barnes' entire piece, or bookmark it, or print it out, or do whatever your attention span/availability requires. We'll leave you with one more brutal portion:
"I suffer from horrific migraines that started only after the attack. I love Dre’s song 'Keep Their Heads Ringin'—it has a particularly deep meaning to me. When I get migraines, my head does ring and it hurts, exactly in the same spot every time where he smashed my head against the wall. People have accused me of holding onto the past; I’m not holding onto the past. I have a souvenir that I never wanted. The past holds onto me."
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