Pioneering Hip-Hop Journalist Dee Barnes, Now Homeless, Gets a Hand-Up From Wendy Williams

Dee Barnes appearing on Wendy April 18, 2019
Dee Barnes appearing on Wendy April 18, 2019
Screenshot: Fox

Life has admittedly not been easy for hip-hop media pioneer Dee Barnes, but perhaps things will start to get a little brighter with the help of talk show host Wendy Williams.

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Barnes appeared Thursday on Wendy: The Wendy Williams Show, where the talk show host offered to publish the book Barnes has in the works on Williams’ Hunter Publishing imprint. Williams also said she would produce a movie based on the book.

“I would like to publish your book,” Williams told a visibly thrilled Barnes and handing Barnes numbers to call after the show. “I would also like to produce the movie of the book.”

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Barnes hosted the influential hip-hop show Pump It Up during the ‘90s and was brutally beaten by Dr. Dre after he took offense about a segment that aired on her show. On Thursday, Barnes revealed that she and her younger daughter were now homeless, staying with friends or at short-term Airbnb rentals and that times had been tough.

Things became so bad recently that Barnes started a GoFundMe last month in hopes of raising $5,000 to stave off an eviction notice.

“I had several jobs but couldn’t keep the rent up,” Barnes told Williams. “Stuff on the side, freelancing that wasn’t coming through.”

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She told Williams that while the GoFundMe surpassed its goal, raising some $30,000, she and her youngest daughter still ended up without a home of their own.

Barnes said that after being viciously assaulted by Dr. Dre years ago at an industry party, she was “persona non grata” in the hip-hop industry she helped shine a light on with Pump It Up, and found it difficult to find work.

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“He picked me up and lifted me off the ground, by my hair; slammed me up against a brick wall, several times, boom, boom, boom,” Barnes in a retelling of Dre’s actions, punctuating her words by slamming her fist into her hand.

“I remember being on the ground, disoriented … I’m in shock,” Barnes told Williams. “I’m dizzy … so I grab [a nearby stair] rail, I pull myself up, and run into the women’s restroom. He [Dre] follows me into the women’s restroom.”

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Barnes paused, and Williams prompted her now visibly shaken guest to continue. “And then what happened?” Williams asked. “Tell your story.”

Barnes, her lips trembling, shared, “He continued to assault me in the women’s restroom.”

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“Beating you up?” Williams asked.

“Mm-hmm,” Barnes, her eyes downcast, responded.

“Were you sexually assaulted?” Williams asked.

“I’m not comfortable talking about everything right now,” said Barnes.

“Your silence is speaking volumes,” Williams responded.

Barnes pressed charges against Dre following the assault, and he received probation and community service. Years later, in 2015, he issued a general apology “to the women I’ve hurt” around the time his N.W.A. group’s biopic, Straight Outta Compton, hit theaters.

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Barnes shared that she was working on a book about her life and that she had recently obtained an agent. And Williams made her offers of publishing and producing a subsequent movie.

Williams, in conjunction with HotelPlanner.com, also gave Barnes $15,000 toward finding a home.

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Hopefully, things will soon be looking up for Barnes.

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DISCUSSION

It was long ago, but I remember. And I loathe him to this day. I saw Straight Outta Compton once. I’ve been unable to bring myself to watch the HBO documentary. I wish for him to someday get his comeuppance and to be deeply haunted by the evil he’s done. The way he’s been sanitized is what allowed the headphone deal to go through. Girls grow up in misogyny, too, and as a young teen listened to NWA as well as solo projects. Had she been his height and weight, this still would’ve been foul. That he felt comfortable doing this to someone who looked like a child by comparison has instilled in me a near hatred. Dee Barnes deserved much better than she got from us as a people (from then till now).