Dr. Dre’s revisiting his 1991 assault on journalist Dee Barnes in HBO’s four-part documentary series The Defiant Ones.
“Any man that puts his hands on a female is a fucking idiot. He’s out of his fucking mind, and I was out of my fucking mind at the time,” he says in a show snippet. “I fucked up, I paid for it. I’m sorry for it, I apologize for it,” he continues, pointing to a “dark cloud” that’s left a “major blemish” on who he is “as a man.”
This is, of course, very different from how Dre first addressed the incident with Barnes back in ’91. In an interview published by Rolling Stone, Dre was quoted saying, “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.”
And if you recall (really, who could forget), Straight Out of Compton did everything but acknowledge Barnes or any of the other women Dre is alleged to have assaulted, thus robbing them of any sort of reprieve (in the documentary, Barnes notes feeling disregarded as a “disturbing footnote” in Dre’s career).
Following the release of the film, Barnes penned a searing editorial piece about the film’s flagrant story revision.
“Dre, who executive produced the movie along with his former groupmate Ice Cube, should have owned up to the time he punched his labelmate Tairrie B twice at a Grammys party in 1990,” Barnes wrote. “He should have owned up to the black eyes and scars he gave to his collaborator Michel’le. And he should have owned up to what he did to me. That’s reality.”
Dre later responded with a meager public apology in The New York Times, stating, “I apologize to the women I’ve hurt,” though he didn’t mention a single one by name. “I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”
Barnes followed up with a response passage. “I hope he meant it,” she said. “I hope he represents these words in his life. I hope that after all these years, he really is a changed man.” And perhaps he is. But one has to wonder what’s gone on behind the scenes after all these years. Is his remorse is in vain?
The Defiant Ones — directed by Allen Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents) — is airing now on HBO. The show features interviews with Ice Cube, Eminem, Barnes and more.