N.W.A.'s anticipated biopic "Straight Outta Compton" had a record-breaking debut at the box office, and left plenty of fans raving about its successes but veteran hip-hop journalist Dee Barnes is pointing out one of the film's failures.
Barnes, who was assaulted by Dr. Dre at an album release party in 1991, wrote a chilling essay for Gawker addressing the fact that the incident was completely ignored in the film, despite the fact that "Compton" director F. Gary Gray was coincidentally a part of the events leading up to the assault more than 20 years ago.
She described in detail how Dr. Dre repeatedly struck her in public in the restroom of a Hollywood club. "It was so caustic that when Dre was trying to choke me on the floor of the women’s room in Po Na Na Souk, a thought flashed through my head," she wrote for Gawker. 'Oh my god. He’s trying to kill me.'"
Barnes was the host of a popular 1990s hip-hop TV show on Fox called "Pump It Up!" which ran a special segment on N.W.A. in November 1990. Unbeknownst to her, producers decided to include a separate interview she conducted with a disgruntled Ice Cube -- who, at the time was viciously feuding with N.W.A. after leaving the group.
After the segment aired, members of N.W.A. bashed Barnes in interviews for trying to "dis" them, and no one intervened when Dr. Dre confronted her at that party on January 27, 1991.
"I suffer from horrific migraines that started only after the attack," she explained. "I love Dre’s song 'Keep Their Heads Ringin' -- when I get migraines, my head does ring and it hurts, exactly in the same spot every time where he smashed my head against the wall."
She points out now, that it was "Straight Outta Compton" director F. Gary Gray, who actually filmed the Ice Cube interview that set everything off, making it even more difficult to understand how he ignored it completely in the film.
But, with Dr. Dre and Ice Cube executive-producing the film, it's easy to see why they wouldn't want this as part of the narrative.
Barnes didn't focus on just herself in the Gawker essay, either. She also mentioned Dre's labelmate, rapper Tairrie B, who he assaulted at a Grammys party in 1990, and his ex-girlfriend and R&B singer Michel’le, who's previously spoken about being abused by Dre.
The former TV host has opened up a dialogue about the misogyny in N.W.A.'s lyrics that wasn't directly addressed in the film.
Barnes says she absolutely did not want to see the actual assault in the film, but found it unbelievable that it was completely erased from the narrative.
What do you think about "Straight Outta Compton" after reading Dee Barnes' essay? Share your thoughts in the comments section.