There’s no doubt that Straight Outta Compton the movie helped us to see a more vulnerable side of Dr. Dre than the one the streets are always talking about. The world knows Dr. Dre to be this Ruthless Records super producer, the one who leaped out on his own skills and talent and left Death Row Records to create Aftermath Entertainment. The Compton streets know him as the one who had the balls to stand up and terminate relationships with once business partners Suge Knight and Eazy E, build an empire and become the independent business man he is today. However, after reading his latest interview with Rolling Stone, I now know him as a man who’s remorseful and able to admit to past mistakes he’s made when he stated the following:
“I made some f**** horrible mistakes in my life… I was young, f**** 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 f*** up. But I paid for those mistakes, and there’s no way in h– that I will ever make another mistake like that again.”
In case you don’t remember the incident many believe he’s referring to, an LA Times writer got a statement from journalist Dee Barnes in which she describes the following incident involving Dr. Dre back in the early ’90s:
“He picked me up by my hair and my ear and smashed my face and body into the wall,” Barnes told the Times. “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.”
This all occurred at a record release party at a nightclub. Dr. Dre actually later boasted about it to Entertainment Weekly, then he downplayed it during an interview with the Source Magazine. Soon after, he denied doing anything wrong at all. When it was all said and done, because there were no broken bones, Dee Barnes didn’t receive much compensation in the beginning.
Dr. Dre was eventually ordered to pay a “people’s court fee” of $2500.00, 250 hours of community service, subjected to do a nonviolent PSA and 24 months probation. Eventually, as Dee Barnes pursed a $20 million lawsuit, the two ended up settling out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.
Dee Barnes may have won a settlement but she lost everything. Her current gig with FOX, several voiceover jobs she’s had, all hosting gigs and offers on the table slowly diminished. It was almost as if everyone in Los Angeles, network television and the entertainment, rap and music in general had been instructed not to hire Dee Barnes. She was in constant fear for her life, which limited her frequenting nightclub events and parties, and she even hired one of the members of the Samoan Booyah Tribe as security, as they were probably the only people anyone in LA were really scared of at the time.
There was a time in Los Angeles that the only people rappers and prominent black entertainers could trust to keep the peace were the Samoans and the Nation of Islam. The LAPD were always a constant joke when it came to security for rappers and people of color. Law officials were never trusted during my childhood or adulthood (that I can remember) while growing up in South Central Los Angeles.
It’s crazy because Dre always surrounded himself with his Samoan security crew (can’t remember if these were the same Samoans we know as the Boo yaa tribe). But I do know these were the Samoan crew (acting as security for Dre that night) forming a circle around Dr Dre while he beat NY Native, FOX T ‘s “Pump it Up” host and 1/2 member of the group “Body and Soul” Dee Barnes. I will never forget the morning I received a phone call from her, in which I could hardly understand what she was saying because of the damage caused by one entire side of her face from the blow she received by Dr. Dre. Tears ran down my face as she described to me that awful night at the club when she thought her life had literally come to an end. Who imagined this one incident would change her entire career path?
It’s so weird that this would happen as it did because just the night before this incident Dee Barnes window was smashed in her vehicle, parked down the street from the “Funk Jungle” nightclub. I had just told Dee that she needed to realize that she was on TV as a hip hop journalist for MTV and a popular rap artist and she needed to not only start valet parking her car; I warned her that she need to stop frequenting the nightclubs alone as LA is a very dangerous place. Barnes was new to Los Angeles but I grew up in South Central LA and hosting a show where you are constantly having to interview rap artists and appear to take sides and be commercial and politically correct to adhere to network guidelines was no easy task (and I knew the viewers and artists may not understand the network stance she may have to take on certain issues) nor understand that Dee Barnes would be a victim of typical editing (sort of like you see on reality tv shows now) where the network has a responsibility to created good tv. That’s exactly what happened.
A FOX network producer thought it would be clever and entertaining to insert a NWA soundbite (Lord only knows what it was saying) during the interview Dee Barnes was conducting with Dr Dre. Sad to say when the episode airred Dr Dre nor Eazy E didn’t find it very humorous or entertaining. Even worse, this was probably one of the first edits Dee didn’t sit through with the producers as well.
Days before interviewing Dr Dre; Dee Barnes visited the home of Eazy E and interviewed him as well and this was definitely a time during the early separation of the two and as a journalist your would not want to get caught in the middle appearing to take one side more than the other. You know the kind of thing any tv host would be subject to. To choose sides publicly would definitely be career suicide and unfortunately Dee Barnes didn’t do this and was still a victim of editing and instantly she became the enemy in the eyes of Dr Dre and Eazy-E.
After viewing the movie and seeing this softer side of Dr Dre and seeing how hard he worked and created this impeccible work ethic paired with extreme talent, it’s no wonder he and ICE Cube have become the musical moguls and icons they are today. I wondered after the movie, and during the promotions if I would ever get the chance to interview Dr Dre (and have the courage to ask him about the Dee Barnes beat down incident).
Does this apology count though? Do you think Dr Dre ever issued a heartfelt personal apology to Dee Barnes? Several articles have appeared questioning why the movie didn’t address Dr. Dre’s issues with violence against women. Since Dre’s all grown up and is a business man, I’m sure he’s thought about this issue and knew it would become in question, despite the success of the film. I guess we will have to tune in to more interviews to find out if Dre will elaborate on the past or calls Rollingout.com and answers the question personally.
In the meantime kudos to the philantropic efforts of the present Dr Dre as he announced last week he was donating the royalties from the “Compton” album to finance a youth performing arts center in Compton. Great job on the film, Cube Vision, Will Packer Productions, Universal Films and the entire cast and production team. This will definitely be a classic and a great stocking stuffer at Christmas time when the DVD will probably be released.