Michel’le Says Suge Knight Protected Her, After Dr. Dre Broke Her Nose (Video)
This week marks the 20th anniversary of Eazy-E-‘s tragic death (March 26, 1995). With Ruthless Records on the minds of many Heads, the consideration ramps up. Michel’le was an R&B star on a Hip-Hop more than a decade before that become a standard. Her multi-platinum self-titled 1989 LP was a critical win for Michel’le Toussaint, Eazy, Ruthless, and producer Dr. Dre. In fact less than two years later, Michel’le was among the defective artists (with Dr. Dre and The D.O.C.) in moving from Ruthless To Death Row Records in 1992.
Sadly, Michel’le’s career went rather cold during the Death Row reign. While working together on Michel’le, the songstress from Los Angeles, California and the MC/producer from Compton, California began a relationship that lasted approximately seven years. In 1991, the high-pitched vocalist gave birth to a son, Marcel, by her and Dre. Now a mother, Michel’le faded to the background of music, and even her appearances on albums (The Chronic, Dogg Food) started to wane by the mega-million pinnacle of Dre and Suge Knight’s label.
In 1996, when she and her son’s father broke up, Michel’le curiously engaged in a serious relationship with Dre’s former business partner-turned-nemesis, Suge Knight. After releasing her sophomore album, the only R&B album Death Row released in the ’90s, 1998’s Hung Jury, Michel’le gave birth to daughter Balei, fathered by the Death Row Records CEO. As Suge Knight released Too Gangsta For Radio, an album that made light of Dr. Dre’s home-life and glamorized the toughness of a child, “Lil’ Suge,” children of Knight and Dre were step-siblings with the same mom.
Speaking with The Breakfast Club this week, Michel’le offers some jaw-dropping perspective on living and loving two of Hip-Hop’s most storied figures. Around the 7:00 mark, Michel’le goes in about the abuse she suffered at Dre’s hands. Admitting that the Aftermath Entertainment founder, Beats By Dre mogul broke her nose, she added, “I do remember when he first hit me. When he first gave me my very first black eye, we laid in the bed and he cried. He was crying and I was crying ’cause I was in shock and hurt and in pain. I don’t know why he was crying, but he said, ‘I’m really sorry.’ I think that was the only time he ever said he was sorry. And he said, ‘I’ll never hit you in that eye again, okay?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, okay.’ And we fell asleep.” She also explains why she stayed with her fiance through the physical abuse.
Moving into her relationship with Suge Knight, circa 1997-1998, she paints the onetime Death Row mogul currently facing murder charges in a rare light. “Suge was always the protector,” she says around the 10:30 mark, admitting that Suge stood in when Dre abused her, even prior to their romantic relationship. Michel’le recalls Dre’s affair with now-wife Nicole in the ’90s, claiming it happened while she was “away” for several months. Michel’le also alleges that Dre’s marriage is monetary-based. Around that time, while Knight was incarcerated, she had “Fake marriage” (13:00). She calls it fake because Knight remained legally married to longtime wife Sharitha, who was famously Snoop Dogg’s manager through the mid-1990s.
She explains later why she left Knight after so many years and challenges (though her dates claim 1995, when she presumably means 2005). Michel’le, who was CEO of Death Row in Suge’s incarceration, also breaks down why her “ex-husband” should have taken her professional advice. With Suge on trial, this is a wild interview for sure.
It’s worth noting that during Dre’s relationship with Michel’le, in 1990, he had a public incident of violence against a woman with “Pump It Up” host Dee Barnes. Rolling Stone‘s Alan Light explained his account, “He picked her up by her hair and ‘began slamming her head and the right side of her body repeatedly against a brick wall near the stairway’ as his bodyguard held off the crowd with a gun. After Dre tried to throw her down the stairs and failed, he began kicking her in the ribs and hands. She escaped and ran into the women’s rest room. Dre followed her and ‘grabbed her from behind by the hair again and proceeded to punch her in the back of the head.'” Dre reportedly responded, “People talk all this shit, but you know, somebody fuck with me, I’m gonna fuck with them. I just did it, you know. Ain’t nothing you can do now by talking about it. Besides, it ain’t no big thing– I just threw her through a door.” The incident prompted a lawsuit, landing Dre on house arrest for much of the early Death Row recordings.
Michel’le has a tell-all book and a movie based on her life planned for later this year.
If Dr. Dre truly abused his fiance, breaking her nose and regularly blackening her eyes, is his legacy as a man and musician portrayed fairly as compared to Big Pun, 50 Cent, and other artists who have had public domestic incidents?