Dr. Dre has issued a public apology to the women he’s abused in the past, following heavy criticism of the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton.
The film, while being critically praised for its urgent statement about police brutality, also notably (and not surprisingly) glosses over Dr. Dre’s abusive history, contributing to a long tradition of black women being silenced in hip-hop (Jamilah Lemieux wrote a great piece about it today for The Washington Post).
The rapper/producer’s violent streak was swept under the rug for years while his victims (including Dee Barnes, Theresa Murphy and his ex-fiancée Michel’le) were effectively ignored. In a piece on Gawker about Straight Outta Compton, Barnes bravely wrote about the time Dre beat her up in a club and about being blacklisted from the music industry.
News then surfaced this week that the movie’s original script intended to depict the assault against Barnes in a scene that was later omitted.
Dre, now a powerful executive working with Apple, had previously taken little ownership of the abuse. In a statement released to The New York Times, he apologized for his past actions:
“Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life. However, none of this is an excuse for what I did. I’ve been married for 19 years and every day I’m working to be a better man for my family, seeking guidance along the way. I’m doing everything I can so I never resemble that man again.”
Directly addressing the women in his past, Dre says:
“I apologize to the women I’ve hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”
Michel’le, who’s the mother of Dre’s son, has spoken about the abuse, both in recent interviews and many times over the years. She told NYT:
“I’ve been talking about my abuse for many, many years, but it has not gotten any ears until now.”
During that time, she said, he was often physically abusive, hitting her with a closed fist and leaving “black eyes, a cracked rib and scars.” Michel’le said she never pressed charges because, “We don’t get that kind of education in my culture.”
She added, “Opening up and finding out there were other women like me gave me the power to speak up.”
Apple also released a statement supporting Dre, writing, “Dre has apologized for the mistakes he’s made in the past and he’s said that he’s not the same person that he was 25 years ago. We believe his sincerity and after working with him for a year and a half, we have every reason to believe that he has changed.”
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