Dee Dee King - Standing in the Spotlight (Cover Artwork)

Dee Dee King

Standing in the Spotlight (1989)

Warner Bros.

Dee Dee King's (better known as Dee Dee Ramone) one and only rap album represents a classic conundrum for reviewers. Like analyzing the movie "Plan 9 from Outer Space," how exactly do you rate something that's so bad it's good? Dee Dee Ramone will be the first to tell you, in hindsight, that his foray into rap was a failure. In the Ramones documentary End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones, he muses, "Maybe it was because I'm not a Negro."

Truth be told, I'm not sure if that would have helped. For starters, Dee Dee's flow is completely monotonous. Scratch that, it's nonexistent. Countless times throughout the album he spits lines just for the sake of the rhyme, leaving the narration of the song. Some unintentionally funny examples: "I've already got a sunburn / When will I ever learn / A lesson out of this / I am not a fish." "The mashed potato is in the groove / It's gonna make your body move / Make you snap, crackle and pop / I'm the master of hip-hop." More often than not, his filler rhymes boast his rapping abilities, which add another layer to this glorious comedy. Another common occurrence is Dee Dee's rhythm being thrown off by his terrible lyrics ("I'm the man.....on top / I can rock and hip hop."). Also prevalent is Dee Dee forcing rhymes; in "2 Much 2 Drink" he mangles "Heineken" to rhyme with "fun."

The beats don't fair as badly in the realm of old-school hip-hop. Corny for sure, but they were recorded live in the studio by a band at a time when most rappers were using samples. Debbie Harry has the dubious honor of being a guest backup vocalist on two songs, her hooks being repeated in "Mashed Potato Time" and "German Kid." The latter is an autobiographical tale that has Debbie crooning the laughable "Haaaalf American / Haaaalf German" chorus, while Dee Dee seemingly goes in and out of rapping in German randomly. And no, his flow doesn't get any better in German.

While billed as his rap record, there are some exceptions: "Baby Doll" sounds like an overproduced Ramones song from the early `80s while "Poor Little Rich Girl" is charging punk rock that wouldn't sound out of place on a later Ramones album. Indeed, Standing in the Spotlight's "The Crusher" was covered by the Ramones on ¡Adios Amigos!.

If you know what you're getting into, this is quality entertainment. The joke wears thin after repeated listens, but that's typical with many comedic albums and films. It's still exponentially more funny than the intolerably bad "____ Movie" franchise. That may not have been what Dee Dee was striving for, but it's borderline legendary in the punk world -- and I'm sure as he got older he learned to smile at "I'm the cut creator / the master of rap / When I strut down the street / homeboys tip their hat."