Michel’le’s Biopic Shows Her Being Abused By Dr. Dre & Her Relationship With Suge Knight (Video)
Despite its commercial success and critical acclaim, N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton also drew criticism for some of the misogyny seen in the film, as well as that which was withheld. In particular, there was a renewed focus on Dr. Dre’s past abuse of women. As a result, in August of 2015, Dre issued a public apology, via The New York Times, saying “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.”
Both Dee Barnes and Michel’le stepped forward with firsthand accounts of violence they had endured at the hands of Dre. Barnes, who was a pioneering Hip-Hop on air personality in the late 80s and early 90s, was the victim of a high profile assault in 1991 that made national headlines at the time. When the N.W.A. film was released, she wrote an article for Gawker titled “Here’s What’s Missing From Straight Outta Compton: Me and the Other Women Dr. Dre Beat Up.”
At the time of his altercation with Barnes, Dre was dating Michel’le, who also was signed to Ruthless Records. The two dated for 7 years, having a son together, and Michel’le asserts that she was regularly assaulted by him during that time. In an appearance on The Breakfast Club, she detailed the first time Dre allegedly hit her and also how Death Row Records CEO, Suge Knight, sometimes intervened on her behalf.
After Dre, Michel’le Toussaint would go on to date Knight for several years, in a relationship that she describes as like a “marriage,” and forever tying her to the two men who built Death Row. Her relationships with both Knight and Dre are now the subject of a new Lifetime biopic titled Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel’le. The film’s trailer has now been released, and it shows a physically abusive Dre and signals a broader culture of violence, as well.
After a scene showing how Toussaint was discovered, contrasting her squeaky speaking voice with her bombastic singing vocals, she is shown in the booth with Dre threatening her while wrapping his hands around her throat, while members of N.W.A. stand around. There are also glimpses of Suge, her interacting with her baby and gunfire. It is clear that her physical abuse will be addressed extensively, as she is shown applying makeup to bruises and warning her child not to live such a life.
Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel’le is set to premiere on Lifetime on October 15.