The riot started by Dr Dre in New Orleans in 1992
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The riot started by Dr Dre in New Orleans in 1992

NWA, led by Dr Dre, shook up hip-hop in the mid-1980s and, alongside Ice-T, really put the West Coast on the map concerning rap music. Branded as gangsta rap, the collective’s material was raw, edgy and lyrically graphic compared to the style of music coming out of New York.

However, there was a lot of backlash aimed at the group and its prominent members, Eazy-E, Ice Cube and Dr Dre. The latter, who went on to found Ruthless Records, ended up running into some severe problems alongside the label’s co-founder Suge Knight.

The 2015 NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton highlighted the genius of Dr Dre and the incredible way he sampled P-Funk to create the iconic G-funk sound of the West Coast. However, what it did not shine a light on was the incriminating allegations levelled against Dr Dre involving unnecessary violence. 

In 1991 Ice Cube released his NWA diss track ‘No Vaseline’, and Dr Dre was not cordial with the Crenshaw emcee. However, female journalist Dee Barnes was not aware of the extent of the beef. As such, when she recorded a segment of an NWA concert footage but chose to include an interview with a separate Ice Cube, Dr Dre was extremely unhappy about what aired.

At a party in Los Angeles that both Dre and Barnes were attending, the producer allegedly grabbed Barnes by the hair, slammed her face into the wall of the nightclub and tried to throw her down a flight of stairs. Barnes later sued Dr. Dre for $10million, but the suit was settled out of court.

However, this is not all the havoc that Dre caused in his early days. In 1992, the same year he released The Chronic, the beatmaker (real name Andre Young) entered the lobby of a hotel in New Orleans with his entourage when a fight broke out between hotel staff and the group. Recollections of the battle vary. However, the most prevalent narrative is that Young and his entourage were denied entrance to a convention at the hotel.

Although it started with just a small number of associates, over 50 people ended up involved in the fight. Two men were stabbed, both of whom identified Young as their attacker. It took 80 police officers to quell the incident. A warrant was quickly issued for the producer’s arrest. After flying to LA, he ultimately had to return to New Orleans to face three misdemeanour charges.