As the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton gained traction and grossed $60.2 million in domestic theaters, stories of N.W.A. founding member Dr. Dre's history of abuse against women resurfaced.
Leading up to the movie's release, some critics accused the filmmakers — including Dre himself, who served as one of the executive producers — of failing to depict his record of being violent against women.
Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray has publicly defended the film, saying the production team opted to focus specifically on the group itself and less on tangential narratives.
R&B singer Theresa Murphy, music journalist Dee Barnes, and former girlfriend Michel'le all say Dre violently punched and beat them. Dre was charged with assault and battery for the 1991 attack on Barnes, although he pleaded no contest; he paid a fine and was sentenced to only community service.
After more than two decades of evading allegations that he assaulted the women, Dre responded to the controversy in a statement sent to the New York Times:
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.
Dre added, "I apologize to the women I've hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives."
On Monday, Barnes reacted to Dre's apology in a post published by Gawker, which included, in part:
I hope he meant it. I hope he represents these words in his life. I hope that after all these years, he really is a changed man.
Dr. Dre has matured, and the women he's hurt, including myself, have endured. I'm proud to be able to say goodbye to the man who at one point was straight outta fucks to give, as he consistently dismissed and disrespected any mention of his assault history. Goodbye to the man who didn't deny it and even bragged, "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."
Goodbye to a general public that accepted these indiscretions without so much as a second thought. When news of the apology broke, my social media feeds were immediately flooded with responses ranging from good to bad to ugly. I saw comments like, "That was the worst apology," "Fake apology," and, "He did not have the decency to state your names and do it face to face after all those years—that's the least he could do."
I understand people's apprehension. The stakes are high now and money talks, loud. Is this is a PR move by Universal, which released Straight Outta Compton?....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.
Dre has become a mogul since his N.W.A. days, and sold his music company Beats to Apple last year for $3 billion.
Apple sent the following statement regarding his apology to the New York Times:
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. 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.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Dr. Dre's personal representative as well as his Apple representative for additional comment.