The success of Straight Outta Compton has been overshadowed by criticisms of how the N.W.A. biopic ignores Dr. Dre's physical abuse of women. While the filmmakers have defended the decision, the controversy has finally forced Dr. Dre to directly address the multiple assaults he was accused of and charged with in his life, including the notorious assault of television host Dee Barnes.
"Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life," Dr. Dre told The New York Times. "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.
"I apologize to the women I've hurt," he continued. "I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives."
In 1991, Dr. Dre confronted Barnes at a party about a segment on her show Pump it Up! that featured former member Ice Cube. In the women's bathroom of the club, Dr. Dre began punching her in the head and repeatedly slammed her into a wall. Dr. Dre pleaded no contest to assault and battery and served no jail time.
A scene depicting the assault appeared in an early version of the Straight Outta Compton script, but director F. Gary Gray - who was a cameraman for Pump It Up! - ultimately decided the movie "wasn't about a lot of side stories" and cut it.
Dr. Dre's assault on Barnes wasn't an anomaly. He also allegedly punched labelmate Tairrie B twice at the 1990 Grammy Awards and repeatedly assaulted his girlfriend, R&B singer Michel'le, who described her relationship, thusly: "I was just a quiet girlfriend who was told to sit down and shut up." "I've been talking about my abuse for many, many years, but it has not gotten any ears until now," Michel'le told the Times.
However, Apple, where Dr. Dre now works as a consultant, is standing by the rapper. "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," the company said in a statement. "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."