Straight Outta Compton, which raked in a hefty $60 million in box office sales this past weekend, tells the inspiring story of N.W.A.’s rise to prominence, both musically and culturally. However, a dark side of Dr. Dre’s personal life has been conveniently left out of the movie, according to two women who have accused The Chronic MC of past abuses.
Though rumors of Dr. Dre’s history of abuse against women are nothing new, Straight Outta Compton’s release has motivated R&B singer Michel’le and journalist Dee Barnes to bring the troubling conversation back into the spotlight.
As Pitchfork notes, this past week, Michel’le — who has a son with Dre and has alleged that the rapper tried once to shoot her — spoke with VladTV about being omitted from the film’s narrative. “Why would Dre put me in it?” she said. “If they start from where they start from, I was just a quiet girlfriend who got beat up and told to sit down and shut up.”
Meanwhile, Barnes wrote a lengthy essay for Gawker, in which she claims that the film purposely makes no mention of the 1991 incident, in which he “beat me mercilessly” at a record release party. She calls herself “a casualty of Straight Outta Compton’s revisionist history.”
“That event isn’t depicted in Straight Outta Compton, but I don’t think it should have been, either. The truth is too ugly for a general audience. I didn’t want to see a depiction of me getting beat up, just like I didn’t want to see a depiction of Dre beating up Michel’le, his one-time girlfriend who recently summed up their relationship this way: ‘I was just a quiet girlfriend who got beat on and told to sit down and shut up.’
But what should have been addressed is that it occurred. When I was sitting there in the theater, and the movie’s timeline skipped by my attack without a glance, I was like, ‘Uhhh, what happened?’ Like many of the women that knew and worked with N.W.A., I found myself a casualty of Straight Outta Compton’s revisionist history.”
According to her, Dre’s physical assault was prompted by an interview that she hosted as part of Fox’s Pump It Up! program, which he believed casted him and the group in a negative light. On said interview and the alleged attack, Barnes wrote:
“It was that interview that was the supposed cause of Dre’s attack on me, as many of his groupmates attested. My life changed that night. 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.”
For his part, Dre partially addressed his blemished past and violent transgressions in a recent Rolling Stone cover story.
“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.”