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Dr Dre abuse allegations cast shadow over Straight Outta Compton

Does the film ignore alleged victims of his violent past?

Dre apologised
Dre apologised "to the women I've hurt" in a statement last week.
Image: Andy Kropa/AP/Press Association Images

TV PRESENTER DEE Barnes was in a Hollywood nightclub one night in 1991 when Dr Dre, she says, slammed her face repeatedly against a wall.

Reportedly insulted by her coverage of NWA, his hip hop group, Dre threw her down on the ground, kicked her and stamped on her fingers, she told reporters at the time.

“When I get migraines, my head [rings] and it hurts, exactly in the same spot every time where he smashed my head against the wall,” she wrote in a widely shared Gawker essay.

The rapper was fined and sentenced to community service after pleading no contest to misdemeanour battery.

But the episode is one of several controversies never brought up in Straight Outta Compton, which hit Irish cinemas last week.

The film charts the rise of NWA, the Californian hip hop group of which Dre was a founding member, and shows the racial discrimination he and other rappers faced in the music industry, as well as their dealings with the police.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Barnes encounter was shown in one of the film’s early drafts before it was removed.

Its director, F Gary Gray, has said he chose not to include it because ”we couldn’t fit everything into the movie”.

Despite accusation that it glosses over abuse, Straight Outta Compton has topped the US box office for the past two weeks, grossing over $136 million since its release on 14 August.

Source: Universal Pictures UK/YouTube

In an interview with Vlad TV shortly after its US release, R&B singer Michel’le, Dre’s former fiancee and the mother of their son, said she was not surprised to be excluded from the film.

“Why would Dre put me in it?” she asked.

I mean if they started from where they started from, I was just a quiet girlfriend who got beat up and told to sit down and shut up.

‘Cracked rib’

It was not the first time Michel’le had spoken about the abuse she allegedly suffered at his hands.

Back in March, she told Power 105.1 FM‘s The Breakfast Club that he beat her repeatedly during their relationship.

“I had five black eyes, I had a cracked rib, I have scars that are just amazing,” she said.

A third woman, Tairrie B, has alleged that he attacked her at the 1990 Grammy Awards after she declined to work with him on her first album.


It was only after Barnes wrote about her experience last month that Dre appeared to acknowledge his violent past.

At the time, he wrote in a public apology published in The New York Times, “I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life.”

Apple, for whom he now works as a consultant, also issued a statement to the paper, saying it has “every reason to believe that he has changed”.

But Dre’s remarks felt “insincere” to Michel’le, who told BBC Radio 5 that he should apologise individually to the women he acknowledges having hurt.

“To just group us like we are nothing and nobody – I just don’t think it’s sincere,” she said. “Treat us like we have names.”

Read: Dr Dre cashes in on Apple winnings, pays $40 million for Tom Brady and Gisele’s mansion with a moat 

Read: Getting a barring order against a violent partner is about to get easier

About the author:

Catherine Healy

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