Dee Barnes Opens Up About ‘Straight Outta Compton’ & Dr. Dre’s Abuse Omission

| August 19, 2015 | 0 Comments


As great a film ‘Straight Outta Compton’ was and largely touched on the important aspects of N.W.A.’s history, there was one thing that was obviously missing. In 1991, at a release party Dr. Dre was upset about an episode of Pump It Up! which featured Ice Cube following up an interview with N.W.A. after he had left the group. Dr. Dre would then assault her in the bathroom at the party, and Barnes sued him in a case that ended up being settle out of court.

Dee Barnes wrote a piece for Gawker where she reflected on the movie and the absence of her assault.

That event isn’t depicted in Straight Outta Compton, but I don’t think it should have been, either. The truth is too ugly for a general audience. I didn’t want to see a depiction of me getting beat up, just like I didn’t want to see a depiction of Dre beating up Michel’le, his one-time girlfriend who recently summed up their relationship this way: ‘I was just a quiet girlfriend who got beat on and told to sit down and shut up.’

But what should have been addressed is that it occurred. 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?” 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.

Barnes also writes about how the film’s revisionist history as the film tries to portray the group as nice guys but keep the hard image:

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. 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. That’s reality rap. In his lyrics, Dre made hyperbolic claims about all these heinous things he did to women. But then he went out and actually violated women. Straight Outta Compton would have you believe that he didn’t really do that. It doesn’t add up. It’s like Ice Cube saying, “I’m not calling all women bitches,” which is a position he maintains even today at age 46. If you listen to the lyrics of “A Bitch Iz a Bitch,” Cube says, “Now the title bitch don’t apply to all women / But all women have a little bitch in ‘em.” So which is it? You can’t have it both ways. That’s what they’re trying to do with Straight Outta Compton: They’re trying to stay hard, and look like good guys.

In an ironic twist the director of ‘Straight Outta Compton’ F. Gary Gray was the cameraman behind the Pump It Up! episode with Ice Cube. Dee Barnes said that she did not want to include it because she knew how seriously they took any verbal or personal attacks. It was also not out of fear for herself but she was thinking about what they would do to themselves.

She also opens up about why she has not been back on television since:


People ask me, “How come you’re not on TV anymore?” and “How come you’re not back on television?” It’s not like I haven’t tried. I was blacklisted. Nobody wants to work with me. They don’t want to affect their relationship with Dre. I’ve been told directly and indirectly, “I can’t work with you.” I auditioned for the part that eventually went to Kimberly Elise in Set It Off. Gary was the director. This was long after Pump it Up!, and I nailed the audition. Gary came out and said, “I can’t give you the part.” I asked him why, and he said, “‘Cause I’m casting Dre as Black Sam.” My heart didn’t sink, I didn’t get emotional; I was just numb.

Most recently, I tried to get a job at Revolt. I’ve known Sean (Combs) for years and have the utmost respect for him. Still nothing. Instead of doing journalism, I’ve had a series of 9-5 jobs over the years to make ends meet.

The film did make her emotional, especially at the end with Eazy-E in the hospital and Barnes claims the film would have been way more accurate if Eazy was still alive as he would have ensure that.

I believe that if Eazy were alive, neither Tairrie B., nor JJ Fad wouldn’t have been ignored in the movie. Eazy was the straight shooter of the group and he just would have kept it more real.

It is an incredible piece that helps paint the full picture of N.W.A. and how everything was in that time period. For how the film tackles the realities of life, they seemed to shy away from the women that were around them besides their mothers and wives. It is an article that everyone should read as it sheds light on how hip hop has and often does treat women with their lyrics and even outside of music.

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