In an intimate piece for Gawker, Dee Barnes, the journalist assaulted by Dr. Dre over 20 years ago, reflects on her absense in the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, and her experience with violence at the hands of hip hop.
In her first-hand account released today, Barnes says she’s relieved she didn’t see herself on the big screen.
“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…”
She does however explain her shock at how casually it was omitted.
“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.”
The most surprising part in Barnes’ essay, which literally has us floored, is the shocking role Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray, allegedly played in the vicious attack on the young hip hop journalist.
“Their [N.W.A.] minds were so ignorant back then, claiming that I set them up and made them look stupid. That wasn’t a setup. It was journalism and television, first of all, and secondly, I had nothing to do with the decision to run the package as it did,” she wrote. “ I was a pawn in the game. I was in it, but so was a true opportunist: the director of Straight Outta Compton, F. Gary Gray.”
After explaining Dr. Dre’s attack was fueled by a segment on N.W.A. Barnes did on “Pump It Up!”, she pointed out the same man who silenced her story played a large role in how it unfolded.
“That’s right. F. Gary Gray, the man whose film made $60 million last weekend as it erased my attack from history, was also behind the camera to film the moment that launched that very attack. He was my cameraman for “Pump It Up!””
Barnes recounts her attack at the hands of Dr. Dre, whom she had known long before N.W.A. blew up, comparing it to police brutality.
“When I saw the footage of California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Andrew straddling and viciously punching Marlene Pinnock in broad daylight on the side of a busy freeway last year, I cringed. That must have been how it looked as Dr. Dre straddled me and beat me mercilessly on the floor of the women’s restroom at the Po Na Na Souk nightclub in 1991.”
Barnes’s entire Gawker piece is just one account of the unfortunate and twisted presence of misogyny and sexism in the world of hip-hop.
She plans to further expand on her views and experiences as she searches for a publisher for her memoir, “Music, Myths, and Misogyny: Memoirs of a Female MC.”