How Dr. Dre Almost Outran His Abusive Past, But Dee Barnes Wouldn’t Let Him

Dr. Dre is riding high since the release of surprise blockbuster Straight Outta Compton hit theaters. The unrelated release of Dre’s similarly titled Compton is also garnering much success, streaming over 11 million times on Apple Music, the LA Times reports. Also getting a boost is NWA’s original 1988 Straight Outta Compton, which sold over 8,000 copies and counting. Nielsen’s David Bakula recently credited the movie’s hype for the recent uptick in NWA’s sales.

“Ever since anyone’s been talking about the movie, people have been going back and rediscovering [the music] and consuming it in a lot of different ways.”

People are not just talking about Straight Outta Compton, but also Dr. Dre, whose past transgressions as an alleged abuser might have escaped public discourse had the film he co-produced not been such a boss at the box office.

Unlike many, Dr. Dre has been able to keep his past in the past, until now. Even if people are inclined to forget the misdeeds of their heroes, there are always a few sitting on the sidelines waiting for their turn at retelling history, or in this case herstory. Dee Barnes, former music journalist for Fox’s ’90s show Pump It Up! and reported Dr. Dre victim, has found her moment and her voice. Dr. Dre pleaded no contest, and Barnes did receive a settlement from the court, making it easier for the matter to be swept quietly under a rug. But she didn’t just take the money and run. Barnes penned a piece for Gawker about her violent encounter with the Beats By Dre billionaire.

Barnes doesn’t take away from former Pump It Up! cameraman F. Gary Gray’s storytelling. She adds to it, revealing the parts she says would be “too ugly for a general audience.”

“In his lyrics, Dre made hyperbolic claims about all these heinous things he did to women. But then he went out and actually violated women.”

Barnes’ detailed revelations are paired with those of Dre’s former flame, R&B singer Michel’le, who talked to VladTV about their relationship.

But, according to LAist, Dre’s reported violence against Michel’le was grievous, reportedly giving his son’s mother five black eyes, a broken nose, and cracked ribs.

Subsequently, Dre grew up and polished his image from rapper to businessman and entrepreneur. Staying out of legal trouble and maintaining a personal life away from the spotlight has helped keep his past from disrupting his future.

Fortunately for Dre, the prying eyes of cameras were not prevalent in the ’80s and ’90s, and tea-spilling social media platforms were not around to itemize rappers’ bad behaviors.

No one is suggesting that Dr. Dre was a serial woman beater, but neither was Chris Brown or Ray Rice who still struggle with their tarnished images, which is not necessarily fair, but it is interesting.

Dr. Dre, in an interview with Rolling Stone, admitted, in part, to the error of his ways, claiming he “paid for those mistakes.” Other than financially, we don’t know how Dr. Dre paid for his mistakes, but it is fair to say that after 30 years, Dre is still free to continue forward with minimal backlash. Or is he?

(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

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