Dr. Dre Says He Had "No Excuse" For Beating Female Journalist In 1991

Photo: Courtesy HBO.
In the second part of HBO's The Defiant Ones, Dr. Dre gets real about one of the most disturbing incidents of his past, when he physically assaulted female TV host Dee Barnes at a party in 1991. Though it happened decades ago, both he and Barnes appear to be grappling with the consequences to this day.
The dispute began when Pump It Up, Fox's syndicated hip-hop show, decided to air Barnes' interview with N.W.A intercut with ex-member Ice Cube. Dre was not happy with how that made the group look. In The Defiant Ones, he said he had turned to drinking during those tense times. Barnes said he looked drunk at the private party at a Hollywood night club, and when he saw her, he allegedly lifted her off the ground and slammed her face and body against a wall. According to Rolling Stone, she issued a statement saying he tried to throw her down the stairs, failed, and proceeded to kick her in the ribs and hands. When she tried to escape, he grabbed her by the hair and punched her in the back of the head. Barnes sued Dre and settled out of court.
"I don't think I was out of touch with reality, but I was Dr. Dre and this was a very low point in my life," he said in the documentary. "I've done a lot of stupid shit in my life, a lot of things that I wish I could go and take back. I've experienced abuse. I watched my mother get abused, so there's absolutely no excuse for it. No woman should ever be treated that way. Any man who puts his hands on a female is a fucking idiot. He's out of his fucking mind, and I was out of my fucking mind at the time. I fucked up. I paid for it. I'm sorry for it. I apologized for it."
Barnes seems to think she paid for it as well. "Little by little, the work started drying up," she said. "It was as if I ruined his career by being that disturbing footnote in his legacy."
For his part, Dre said he is still trying to do penance for his actions (though he still makes this all about him, not about his victim).
"I have this dark cloud that follows me, and it's going to be attached to me forever," he said. "It's a major blemish on who I am as a man. Every time it comes up, it just makes me feel fucked up. It's like, What do I do? What do I do to get rid of this dark cloud? I don't know what else to do. I'm learning. I'm trying to become a better person, a better man."


R29 Original Series