Andre “Dr. Dre” Young has largely put his past violence against women behind him, cultivating superstars like Eminem, founding the insanely profitable Beats by Dre and co-producing the highly anticipated “Straight Outta Compton” biopic in celebration of N.W.A. But two tracks on his latest album, the movie-inspired “Compton: A Soundtrack,” serve as a reminder of his problematic history—a history that complicates the narrative of his own transformative success in the face of immense odds.
The album, which was released today and is streaming on Apple Music, is coming under fire in some quarters for violent and misogynistic content. Dre protegé and controversy-troll Eminem has a line in the song “Medicine Man” in which he says, ”Ain’t no one safe from, non-believers there ain’t none/I even make the bitches I rape cum.” And at the end of “Loose Cannons,” there’s a skit that seemingly describes Dre murdering and burying a woman.
This content has grim echoes of Dre’s alleged history of misogynist violence. In late March, Michel’le, a Dre protegé, former girlfriend and mother of one of his children, told Vlad TV that when they were together he beat her repeatedly, and even tried to shoot her to death.
And in an incident that has resurfaced in the runup to “Straight Outta Compton,” Dre assaulted journalist Dee Barnes at a 1991 record release party because her show, “Pump It Up,” combined an interview with a then-excommunicated Ice Cube with footage she’d shot of N.W.A. Claiming that Barnes had made N.W.A. look stupid, Dre allegedly beat her and kicked down a door to assault her further. Although Dre eventually distanced himself from the incident, he and his N.W.A. group members defended the action in its immediate aftermath. Despite Cube and Dre burying their own feud and working together on the new biopic, Barnes’ career hasn’t recovered since Dre settled her 1991 lawsuit against him.
The renewed criticism against Dre has threatened to overshadow the philanthropic aims of “Compton: A Soundtrack,” for which Dre announced that he would donate record royalties to construct a new arts and entertainment center in Compton.