Rapper, producer, and Beats mogul Dr. Dre issued a lengthy apology Friday to several women whom he allegedly assaulted decades ago during his rise to becoming one of the most successful hip-hop entrepreneurs of all time.
“Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life,” Dre told The New York Times. “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.”
“I apologize to the women I’ve hurt,” he also told the paper. “I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”
Dre had come under fire in recent weeks over accusations that the film Straight Outta Compton, which chronicles the rise of the rap group N.W.A and which Dre co-produced, omitted details about the rapper’s alleged physical assaults of three women in the 1990s.
Dre allegedly assaulted then-hip-hop journalist Dee Barnes at a record-release party in Los Angeles in 1991. Rolling Stone reporter Alan Light summarized Barnes’ claims:
According to a statement issued by Barnes, Dre picked her up and “began slamming her face and the right side of her body repeatedly against a wall near the stairway” as his bodyguard held off the crowd. After Dre tried to throw her down the stairs and failed, he began kicking her in the ribs and hands. She escaped and ran into the women’s restroom. Dre followed her and “grabbed her from behind by the hair and proceeded to punch her in the back of the head.” Finally, Dre and his bodyguard ran from the building.
Dre pleaded no contest to assault and battery charges and was sentenced to two years of probation and a $2,500 fine. But the rapper has also been accused of assaulting former R&B singer and one-time fiancee Michel’le and former rapper and Eazy-E protege Tairrie B.
In an essay for Gawker this week, Barnes wrote that she was glad a depiction of the alleged assault was left out of the film but expressed frustration that the incident was not even mentioned or addressed:
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.
Dre has addressed the assault allegations before, but his statement to The New York Times Friday appears to be the first time he has openly apologized to the women. In Rolling Stone’s August cover story on Straight Outta Compton, Dre admitted “some” of the allegations against him are true, saying that “those are some of the things that I would like to take back.”
Straight Outta Compton debuted at No. 1 at the box office last week, taking in an eye-popping $60.2 million. Dr. Dre’s companion album Compton, his first new music in 16 years, was streamed 25 million times on Apple Music in its first week and sold 276,000 copies in the same time frame, making it No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.