Dr. Dre and “Justice”- I’ll Still Be Listening


Dr. Dre is a brilliant musical mind and a solid business man. He’s the greatest rap producer in the history of hip hop, and he’s made somewhere around a billion dollars after his “Beats by Dre” sale to Apple earlier this year. Now “Straight out of Compton” is making millions in theaters, and his album “Compton” debuted at #2 on the charts. He’s taking a figurative victory lap on the business.

While he’s doing so though, parts of his past he doesn’t want to discuss are being discussed. Dr. Dre has been accused of beating up three women, and those accusations are getting new airtime. Critics are attacking the movie for not bringing up the violence, and some on the internet are bringing up the old assaults in all of their details. It is a side of Dre that they say has been glossed over, and that he is trying to erase from history, to make the women who accused him irrelevant.

I have no problem with the women coming forward to tell their stories, or even the idea that Dr. Dre wasn’t a saint of a guy, because I already knew it. I didn’t know the names of the accusers and the details (or had forgot them), but I listened to the music. The “gangsta'” hip hop movement of the 1990s was the most significant and important musical movement we’ve had in the last 20-25 years, and you can’t undervalue it’s social importance. The music was really good too. With those things said, gangsta’ rap was misogynistic, and we all knew it at the time we were listening to it (whether we glossed over that inconvenient little fact is a different story altogether.). These guys regularly talked about “bitches and hoes” in music, it wasn’t something they were trying to hide. Tupac Shakur was in jail for a rape conviction when Suge Knight got him out and brought him to California. Yes, 1990s era rap music was incredibly important socially, but yes it also was extremely misogynistic. Both can be true because the people involved were complex people to read. They were changing the world, but they were doing so by bringing a pretty rough world to us. Of course an amazingly talented producer like Dre would also have some fatal flaw, something awful enough to condemn.

But I did listen to his music then, and I’ll listen to it now. I’ll go see “Straight Outta’ Compton” too. I’ll do so, and won’t feel bad either. No, that doesn’t mean i’m okay with what Dr. Dre did, or at the other extreme that I “just want his accusers to shut up and go away.” Quite different actually. I see people in 3-D, because that’s how we live. We live in a complex world, full of complex people. The world we live in isn’t black and white, people mostly live in the gray. I have three dogs and hate animal abuse, but I understand that we have to allow Michael Vick to emerge back into society after he served his time for dog fighting. The same principle is due to Dr. Dre. He was actually convicted for beating up one of the women, and he apparently complied with the sentence he received. Hopefully he is the better person he says he is today, and doesn’t condone his past behavior.

There is an idea that some people have that we have to go back and fix every past social wrong, and make sure to attach it to the wrong-doer. I find no real use for that brand of “justice.” People do things in their past, and our hope is that they are brought to justice, and they move on, grow from it, and are better people. If we take the worst things every one ever did and define them by that, we will end up none the better. It’s no way to live life, and it’s no way to run a society.


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