As hard as it is to believe for most hip-hop fans, there are people who only know Andre “Dr. Dre” Young as the man behind Beats headphones, which Apple recently purchased for $3.3 billion. While that is borderline sacrilege to the rest of us, those very headphones are protecting Dre from a potential PR crisis as he celebrates another professional victory.
Now that the hit biopic “Straight Outta Compton” is shining a light on the breakthrough rap group N.W.A., a part of Dr. Dre’s past has also been brought in that spotlight. This one is less romantic–it specifically consists of his thoughts, words, and actions against women.
As one of the founding members of the group, Dre was known to pen a few disparaging thoughts about women. This was typical in the “gangsta” rap world of the late 80s and early 90s, but it’s not the kind of thing one expects to hear from a billionaire CEO and advisor to the world’s most valuable company.
Forced to deal with the man he once was, Dre gave The New York Times a mea culpa block quote apologizing for past actions:
“I apologize to the women I’ve hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”
Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life. However, none of this is an excuse for what I did. I’ve been married for 19 years and every day I’m working to be a better man for my family, seeking guidance along the way. I’m doing everything I can so I never resemble that man again.”
The apology came about after a written report by a hip-hop journalist named Dee Barnes, who Dre attacked in 1991. Of course, the brutal incident didn’t make the final cut of the biopic–and this fact really pissed her off.
“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?,” she wrote.
Here’s why no one should be surprised: if you think that a company which chooses to write a very big check to an 80s rapper hasn’t dived into the darkest corners of his past, then you really don’t understand public relations.
Apple’s PR army almost certainly helped Dre write that apology in the first place…about a year ago. They knew the movie was under production, they knew about his misogynist past, and they definitely knew what N.W.A. stood for. Yet they still bought those headphones.
That was a sound investment for Apple, which is why this movie–and Dre’s admission that he was a proud and violent misogynist–is no big surprise and doesn’t even create a whiff of #PRFail for Cupertino.
The company’s statement.
“Dre has apologized for the mistakes he’s made in the past and he’s said that he’s not the same person that he was 25 years ago,” Apple said in a statement. “After working with him for a year and a half, we have every reason to believe that he has changed.”
Not much more to say, because they’d already planned for this.
In other words, enjoy the movie, folks. We’re all good here. You could say that the doctor’s abusive past is ‘Nuthin’ But a G Thang.'”