As Rolling Stone reported in 1991: “Last November the Fox TV rap video show “Pump It Up” ran a segment on N.W.A. in which it crosscut between members of the group dissing their former partner Ice Cube and a previous interview with Cube in which he bad-mouthed them. The members of N.W.A. decided that the clip made them look bad. On January 27th, Dre ran into “Pump It Up” host Dee Barnes at a record-release party in L.A.”
When Dre met Barnes, the situation deteriorated. The details remain murky — Dre pleaded no contest to battery charges, and a civil suit was settled out of court — but Barnes said Dre “began slamming her face and the right side of her body repeatedly against a wall,” then followed her into a bathroom, where the alleged assault continued.
And, in an interview not long after the incident, Dre sort of copped to it.
“Somebody f—- with me, I’m gonna f— with them,” Dre told Rolling Stone. “I just did it, you know. Ain’t nothing you can do now by talking about it. Besides, it ain’t no big thing – I just threw her through a door.”
Now, 25 years after she was allegedly beaten by Dre — and on the heels of a stunning, record-breaking opening weekend for the NWA biopic “Straight Outta Compton” — Barnes has attempted to call Dre to account. In a piece for Gawker published Tuesday called “Here’s What’s Missing From Straight Outta Compton: Me and the Other Women Dr. Dre Beat Up,” Barnes wrote of the time she thought hip-hop’s reputed first billionaire was trying to kill her — and how her alleged assault had been “erased” from history.
“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?'” Barnes wrote. “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.”
In her Gawker piece, Barnes described how she “knew the guys of N.W.A. years before they blew up” and that the “men became my brothers.” She said she didn’t recognize the misogynists NWA appeared to be on record because “only certain women were ‘like that,’ and I’ve never presented myself like that, so I never gave them a reason to call me names.”
“Accurately articulating the frustrations of young black men being constantly harassed by the cops is at Straight Outta Compton’s activistic core,” she wrote. “There is a direct connection between the oppression of black men and the violence perpetrated by black men against black women.”
Though Barnes defended NWA’s image, however, she couldn’t defend Dre’s reaction after her “Pump It Up” piece — over which she did not have final edit — aired. She described health problems and a career in media derailed by Dre’s connections.
“People ask me, ‘How come you’re not on TV anymore?’ and ‘How come you’re not back on television?'” she wrote. “It’s not like I haven’t tried. I was blacklisted.”
While not addressing the renewed Barnes controversy amid the kudos with which “Straight Outta Compton” has been received, Dre did broadly discuss allegations against him in a Rolling Stone interview last week.
“I made some f—ing horrible mistakes in my life,” Dre said. “I was young, f—ing 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—ed up. But I paid for those mistakes, and there’s no way in hell that I will ever make another mistake like that again.”
For Barnes, however, it seems such non-apologies come too late.
“He should have owned up to what he did to me,” she wrote. “That’s reality. That’s reality rap.”