Unfortunately, the fact is that Dre isn’t the first or last hip-hop artist to be involved in the physical abuse of women. Perhaps, the greatest Latino MC of all time, Big Pun, wasn’t only a beast on the mic but also at home with his wife, Liza. I distinctly remember attending a screening of the documentary Still Not A Player in 2002. The docu included never-before seen surveillance footage of a morbidly obese Pun beating his wife with the butt of a gun. My jaw dropped. One of my hip-hop heroes was a poor excuse of a man. It sparked something inside me.
It wasn’t the first time I was let down by one of my role models. My father, an Ecuadorian immigrant, also let his hands do the talking at home. My older sisters experienced the worst of his rage on my mother; by the time I came along, it was a thing of the past. Or so I thought. I don’t remember the reason behind the argument, but I do recall my reaction. My infuriated father started screaming at my mother; she barked back as well. Then he took a cast iron pot and looked like he was ready to throw it at her face. I quickly stood up, guarded my mother and defiantly told him, “You have to get through me first!” His eyes widened — perhaps looking at my 15-year-old body as a threat —and he backed down.
So yes, hip-hop is full of misogynistic lyrics and misguided men, but it’s bigger than rap music. The problem begins in our Latino and African American communities. According to the National Latino Network, one in three Latinas have experienced domestic violence. According to the Violence Policy Center, 94 percent of murdered black women were killed by someone they knew.
So whether he’s a hip-hop billionaire or a South American immigrant, domestic violence isn’t classist. It’s an ill that is engrained in our machismo-laden cultures. Yet, my father is paying for his sins on Earth. All his rage finally caught up to him in 2006 when he suffered a couple of massive strokes. As much as it pains me to see him in a wheelchair, barely uttering words, and going through motions of life, I also look at my mother and think, She deserved a better life. While karma is catching up with my father, what about Dre?
Will he go about his successful life, without ever mentioning his abusive past again? Or will he put his Apple Music money to good sociopolitical use by building shelters for victims or donating to non-profit anti-domestic violence organizations? We’ll be waiting for the aftermath (pun intended).