The publicity surrounding the N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton, has once again thrown focus on Dr Dre's numerous physical attacks on women. One woman, Dee Barnes recounts a particularly brutal attack in a nightclub toilet where she thought she might die at the hands of Dre. At the time, Dre brushed off the attack as 'no big thing' and his cohorts practically validated his actions in an interview saying 'she deserved it - bitch deserved it.'
Dre's ex-partner, R&B singer Michel'le, has also been vocal about a number of nasty attacks, one leaving her in need of corrective surgery. In another, reminiscent of the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp, Dre shot at her through a door. This is not a couple of soap-opera slaps, this is terrifying physical abuse over a period of time.
A third woman, rapper Tairrie B, also felt the power of Dre's insecurity when she recorded a track dissing him. Dre responded with two punches,
'once in the mouth and once in the eye. He hit me like Tyson, but I took it, I don't know how.'Bearing in mind Dre has spent an unhealthy percentage of his creative output on anti-female rhetoric, it's incredibly revealing he responded to a slight on his own masculinity by punching a woman in the face. The big man literally can't take it.
Dr Dre's achievements in the music industry are nothing short of outstanding. His position was consolidated last year when Apple acquired his Beats brand for $3bn leading to Dre being heralded 'hip hop's first billionaire'. Dre is now one of the most powerful men in the music industry.
When reports of the attacks resurfaced, Dre responded: 'I apologize to the women I've hurt. I deeply regret what I did.' Although it doesn't address any of the women directly, the full apology is considered and does come across as sincere. Apple obviously think so and supported his statement,
'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,'It would be difficult for them not to support him considering the Beats deal was the biggest in their history.
If we look at Dre's body of work over the last 20 years, it doesn't appear to be in line with a man who is deeply regretful for beating up women. Dr Dre is single-handedly responsible for the creation and elevation of Eminem from scrawny schoolyard-pigtail-puller to celebrated hip hop hero. Second only to Fred West in his rampant misogyny, Eminem's career boasts a number of albums littered with woman-hating vitriol. Dr Dre has an executive producer credit on every single one. This year, Dre released his own album, Compton, which has a guest spot by Eminem where he raps endorsing rape.
When faced with opposition in the past, Eminem has claimed he plays with personas in his work, that his misogyny comes from characters rather than the man himself. Unfortunately, when your executive producer has a number of documented brutal attacks on women, this argument becomes as weak as your last withering shreds of masculinity. By the way, I'm not emasculating anyone here, when you hate on women you emasculate yourself.
Apple's 'changed-man' conclusion seems to be borne of business convenience rather than cast-iron conviction. Apple aren't just defending a remorseful man who has hit women in the past. They are defending someone who has helped to promote and reinforce violent misogyny to a worldwide audience.
The most heartbreaking comment in all of this comes from Michel'le. When asked why she never reported any of Dre's violence towards her, she responded
'We don't get that kind of education in my culture.'
Dre and his cronies have positively punched-up the misogyny within that culture, building on an already anti-female foundation, it's a dangerous double-whammy.
An apology is not enough. Apple's new senior executive and hip hop's first billionaire needs to wield some of his huge influence and take some positive steps to changing the culture of misogyny in hip hop and beyond. Reversing the women-hating rhetoric and donating a big chunk of the Beats profits to support networks and education programs would benefit a whole generation of young women and men alike. In his apology, Dre acknowledged his actions had 'forever impacted' his life and those of the women he attacked. It is in his power now to stop the same thing happening to others.