Earlier this week, legendary hip-hop journalist Dee Barnes penned an essay finally addressing the growing controversy surrounding the omission of her assault from Straight Outta Compton. During a 1991 release party in Los Angeles, Barnes was cornered by Dr. Dre in the restroom before being beaten to the floor. Dre's unsettling assault of Barnes reportedly stemmed from his disapproval of a Pump It Up! interview with Ice Cube, an interview filmed by none other than Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray.
Though both Gray and Dre have failed to respond to Barnes's essay, its assertions add a sinister layer to an already disturbing incident of undeniable abuse. According to Barnes, the assault negatively impacted her career for many years due to Dre's influence within the industry. In the wake of the ongoing controversy, the Los Angeles Times tracked down a copy of Jonathan Herman's original script. Dre's assault of Barnes, according to this draft, was originally meant to appear in the film. However, the context surrounding its initial inclusion is, to say the least, problematic:
In the scene, the fictional Dre, “eyes glazed, drunk, with an edge of nastiness, contempt” (per noted from the script) spots Barnes at the party and approaches her.
“Saw that [expletive] you did with Cube. Really had you under his spell, huh? Ate up everything he said. Let him diss us. Sell us out.”
“I just let him tell his story,” Barnes’ character retorts, “That’s what I do. It’s my job.”
“I thought we were cool, you and me,” Dre fires back. “But you don’t give a [expletive]. You just wanna laugh at N.W.A, make us all look like fools.”
The conversation escalates, Barnes throws her drink in Dre’s face before he attacks her “flinging her around like a rag-doll, while she screams, cries, begs for him to stop.”
In addition to the fact that this original inclusion grossly places the blame of the incident's escalation firmly on Dee Barnes, it also includes what might very well be a total fabrication. According to Barnes's account of the assault, a drink was never thrown at or from either involved party.