Dee Barnes, the female hip-hop journalist who penned a powerful essay about Dr. Dre‘s assault on her, has said she is grateful for the rapper’s public apology last week. Barnes spoke up earlier this month about the 1991 incident, in which Dre assaulted her over the way her TV program reported an N.W.A story, when she saw it was not depicted in the biopic Straight Outta Compton. Now, in a new essay for Gawker, Barnes writes that the rapper’s contrition is “bigger than hip-hop.”
The journalist wrote that people had responded to Dre’s apology by questioning his motivations, but, she says, that’s not the point. “Is this is a PR move by Universal, which released Straight Outta Compton?… Is it damage control by Apple, which can no longer ignore that if you take the ‘Beats by Dre’ logo and remove the ‘S,’ you get a double entendre describing several woman he just apologized to?” Barnes wrote. “Is Dre himself really remorseful or just saving face? To me, the answers to these questions matter less than the fact that Dre stepped up and performed his social responsibility by finally taking accountability for his actions.
“Who cares why he apologized?” she continued. “The point is that he did.”
Barnes wrote that she decided to speak up about the omission of the assault after she read the current Rolling Stone cover story in which Dre apologized, since, she said, it was the first time she had seen an apology. “He vaguely acknowledged his ‘fucking horrible mistakes,'” she said. “But he didn’t actually apologize….That is ‘why now.'”
Elsewhere in the new article, Barnes expressed exasperation that an early version of the Straight Outta Compton script included her assault but only after she allegedly threw a drink in his face (“That is a fabrication intended to excuse his actions,” she wrote). She also condemned Dre again for guesting on an Eminem song that mentioned the assault lightheartedly (“essentially turned me into a, uh, punch line,” she wrote). Barnes wrote that she was the only one of Dre’s assault accusers, which include onetime girlfriend/singer Michel’le and rapper-turned-rocker Tairrie B., to be called out by name in a song he was on. She also called the hypocrisy as a whole appalling.
“No one wants to see their heroes criticized,” she wrote. “And if they are African-American, the community at large becomes suspicious of an underlying motive to tear down a successful black man. Excusing pop culture icons from scrutiny over their history of violence against women because they are elevated to ‘hero’ status is wrong on so many levels. Creating notable, brilliant art does not absolve you of your faults.”
Last week, Dre released an apology to “the women I’ve hurt.” “I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives,” he wrote. “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.”
Barnes opened her new article with, “Bravo, Andre. Humility is true self-knowledge.”