Michel’le Toussant Known mononymously as Michel’le, was born December 5, 1970.
One of the more interesting urban contemporary vocalists of the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Los Angeles-based Michel’le was known for having a squeaky, high-pitched speaking voice and an aggressive, full-bodied style of singing. Some people jokingly called her the Betty Boop of urban contemporary, although the Boop comparisons had more to do with her speaking voice than her singing (which could be quite gritty at times).
Michel’le, who is best-known for her smash hit “No More Lies,” favored a very hip-hop-minded approach to R&B, and that isn’t the least bit surprising when you take into consideration the company that she kept. The members of N.W.A. – especially Dr. Dre and the late Eric “Eazy-E” Wright – were partly responsible for the success of Michel’le, who pronounces her name “meesh-a-lay.” And her manager was music industry veteran Jerry Heller, who was also managing N.W.A. back then.
Michel’le was a young neo-soulstress who had strong ties to the hip-hop world. It was in 1989 that Michel’le signed with Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records, which was the home of N.W.A. as well as Dallas native the D.O.C. and the female pop-rap group J.J. Fad (of “Supersonic” fame). Ruthless was distributed by different labels, depending on the artist. N.W.A. (one of the most important and influential groups in the history of gangsta rap) went through Priority, while the D.O.C., J.J. Fad, and Michel’le were signed to Ruthless/Atlantic. Although Ruthless was primarily a rap label, Dre and Eazy wanted to branch out into urban contemporary singing; and Michel’le, although quite hip-hop-influenced, was very much an urban contemporary singer.
In 1989, Dre produced Michel’le’s self-titled debut album; Eazy served as executive producer, while the mixing was handled by Dre and DJ Yella (another N.W.A. agitator). But, despite the participation of all those N.W.A. members, Michel’le’s album didn’t sound anything at all like that group’s controversial and disturbing gangsta rap; and unlike N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton, it enjoyed a great deal of exposure on urban radio. The funky “No More Lies,” Michel’le’s debut single, was a major hit on the same R&B stations that went out of their way to avoid Straight Outta Compton; it was also a big pop hit and reached the Top Ten on Billboard’s pop singles chart. The equally funky “Nicety,” which was released as a single in 1990, was another major hit, and “Keep Watchin'” (the album’s third single) also fared well.
In 1991, Michel’le became the victim of some East Coast/West Coast rivalry; that year, Bronx rapper Tim Dog(formerly of the Ultramagnetic MC’s) said some insulting things about Michel’le and Dre on his angry, West Coast-bashing single “Fuck Compton.” Unlike the infamous, well-publicized feud that L.A.’s Death Row Records/Suge Knight clique and New York’s Puff Daddy/Bad Boy Entertainment/the Notorious B.I.G. clique had several years later, Tim Dog’s war of words with the members of N.W.A. didn’t turn deadly; nonetheless, Michel’le was said to be furious over the things that Tim Dog said about her on “Fuck Compton.”
She also provided vocals on 2Pac’s songs “Run Tha Streets“, ”Happy Home”, Playa Cardz Right”, ”Welcome To Death Row”, and Tha Dogg Pound’s song “Let’s Play House” on their debut ”Dogg Food” album
Michel’le’ had relationships with two of hip hop’s biggest names.
Michel’le was originally a featured female vocalist on World Class Wreckin’ Cru’s 1987 single “Turn Off the Lights.” Soon she caught the attention of Eazy-E and signed to his label. Dr. Dre served as the sole producer on the South Central native’s self-titled debut album and because they worked so closely in a professional manner, their relationship soon became intimate. Michel’le gave birth to Dre’s fourth child, a son named Marcel.
The two were a couple for 6 years.
During their relationship, which included parenthood and an engagement, Dre raised his hand to Michel’le several times. According to Michel’le he broke her nose, cracked her ribs and blackened her eyes. The relationship prompted a downward spiral into substance abuse for the chart-topping singer.
In 1999, Michel’le found solace with Death Row Records founder Suge Knight
The two married and welcomed a daughter Bailei. Although, the marriage was invalid because Knight was still married to another woman. The couple was together for eight years, with Suge being incarcerated for six of them. Currently Suge is back in jail on a 2015 attempted murder charge. “I am used to Suge’s behavior,” Michel’le said in a recent interview with the Daily Mail. “Most of our relationship was under the shadow of him being in and out of prison and always being in trouble.”
Michel’le admits that she wanted to have sex with Tupac on the Wendy Williams show.
American biographical television drama film that premiered on Lifetime on October 15, 2016 – Surviving Compton , narrated by Michel’le. The story of R&B artist Michel’le, who rose to fame in the late 1980s when she signed on to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records.
Surviving Compton, the Lifetime biopic about Dr. Dre’s former girlfriend Michel’le, and its debut on television lit Twitter on fire, particularly for its portrayal of a side of Dr. Dre that many of his fans and supporters may have swept under the rug over the years.
In addition to the film shining a light on the hip-hop mogul’s past actions of alleged domestic violence against Michel’le, which was a part of the story ”Straight Outta Compton” neglected to include, was how Tupac came into play.
As many took to social media to voice their anger and commentary as they watched the Lifetime movie for the first time, former Death Row artist Daz Dillinger also decided to give his two cents.
“Did you see where Suge Knight was talking to Tupac like that in her movie?” Dillinger said in a clip he posted to Instagram. “I don’t recall no s**t like that. Tupac wasn’t going for no s**t like that. I wouldn’t go for no s**t like that or we’d have a lot of fights. I ain’t heard of no s**t like that. That b***h lie.”
Filmed from Michel’le’s point of view, made in partnership with Sony Pictures Television and Thinkfactory Media, Surviving Compton portrays billionaire rapper and former N.W.A. star Dr. Dre as an extremely violent, abusive boyfriend, who beats and threatens Michel’le, Dre’s girlfriend at the time. There are scenes of Dre’s character pulling Michel’le’s hair, punching her in the face and even pulling a gun on her. She claims that she needed corrective surgery for a broken nose.
Dre’s legal team sent a cease and desist letter to Sony Pictures before the biopic aired. According to reports, Dre denies accusations of ever abusing the R&B singer, and claims that Michel’le never filed a police report nor sought out medical help. In addition to the cease and desist letter, Dre’s attorneys threatened Michel’le with a defamation of character lawsuit to potentially influence her into backing down from releasing Surviving Compton. Michel’le relies solely on testimony from those who witnessed the abuse since she admittedly has no legal documentation to prove that Dre ever abused her. She responded to Dre’s claims that she was never physically abused.
It is very rare for someone like Dre to win a case like this; to prove that something didn’t happen. A couple of years ago, Scarlett Johansson was relatively successful in a defamation case against novelist Gregoire Delacourt, who portrayed a “Johansson look alike” as a “sex object” in his novel “The First Thing We Look At.”
In Scarlett Johansson v. Gregoire Delacourt, the starlet was awarded a meager $5,000 for the “hurtful and demeaning” depiction of her. Johansson accused Mr. Delacourt, a bestselling French novelist, of borrowing her image to promote the novel. She claimed that the book portrayed her having two relationships that she never mentioned herself, although Johansson had disclosed details of her private life in various interviews throughout her career. A French judge agreed with Johansson that Delacourt “fraudulently exploited her name, her image and her celebrity.”
If Dre’s suit against Sony and Michel’le is not dropped or thrown out, Dre would have to prove, on a public stage, that he did not abuse Michel’le and that his reputation has been harmed. Dre would have to refute testimony from the other side, and the entire world would relive his past, one he doesn’t seem to want to dig up. It seems like a big risk for Dre and, for that reason, the suit will probably never reach the courtroom.