During Monday’s episode of HBO’s The Defiant Ones, the words “I’m sorry” actually fell from the mouth of Dr. Dre regarding his 1991 attack on Dee Barnes.
In Part Two of director Allen Hughes‘ four-part documentary on the careers of Dre and industry veteran Jimmy Iovine, Barnes detailed the events leading up to her assault and its lasting effect. Dre, in a separate interview, expressed regret over the violent incident.
“Any man who puts his hands on a female is a f—ing idiot. He’s out of his f—ing mind, and I was out of my f—ing mind at the time. I f—ed up, I paid for it, I’m sorry for it, and I apologize for it,” he said. “I have this dark cloud that follows me, and it’s going to be attached to me forever. It’s a major blemish on who I am as a man.”
Dre’s ire toward Barnes was rooted in an episode of her hip hop TV series Pump It Up! She was on the set of John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood preparing to interview rapper Yo Yo when Ice Cube (who starred in the film and had just left N.W.A.) interrupted their on-camera Q&A to dis his former group.
Prior to this event, Barnes had interviewed N.W.A, also for Pump It Up! Once both segments were in the can, producer Jeff Shore told Barnes he would edit the two interviews together for an episode, which Barnes never realized would cause trouble.
“I was 22 at the time. I’m not Oprah,” she said in the doc. “I didn’t know there was still more internal struggles in the group. Not even after Cube left.”
In January 1991, Dre spotted Barnes at a release party for rap duo BWP. Still smoldering over N.W.A.’s “Pump It Up!” episode, he assaulted her, according to police reports. “When I say he snatched me up, my feet were off the ground,” Barnes said. “Everybody knows the story from there.”
According to her $22 million civil suit against Dre for assault and battery, he allegedly grabbed her hair, slammed her face and body into a wall and kicked her in the ribs.
“I’ve done a lot of stupid s**t in my life, a lot of things that I wish I could go and take back,” Dre says in the documentary. “I’ve experienced abuse. I’ve watched my mother get abused. There’s absolutely no excuse for it. No woman should ever be treated that way.”
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