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Grammatical B

Members

Ben Johnson:

RIYL

Tenacious D, Weird Al

Inception

San Diego , 2009

Influences

Tenacious D, Beastie Boys

Discography

Video(s)

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Grammatical B is the alter ego of Ben Johnson, longtime Casbah bartender and member of Hostile Combover, Tourettes Lautrec, Wha?, and the Long and Short of It. “It’s comedy-based storytelling rap stuff,” he says.

“This is my first foray into rap, after doing heavy rock and punk for the last 20 years,” says the Golden Hill resident. Asked about early influences, he mentions Weird Al (whose parents were longtime San Diegans). “Although I won't be doing any parody stuff, ever.”

“When the wee Grammatical one moved from Seattle to Carlsbad and had culture shock before going to the beach and forever bidding farewell to my Emerald past, I would often fall asleep on the top bunk, my brother on the lower, and we would laugh at the Dr. Demento radio show until my strict mother would come in and make us read Dostoevsky to remind us there are no free lunches.”

Johnson doesn't consider Grammatical B to be a so-called novelty group. “I avoid being labeled a novelty act by making every song so amazingly catchy and danceable that no one realizes they should be laughing until they're halfway through freaking someone's mother or the furniture.”

As for locals he finds a kinship with, “The one contemporary in San Diego that I'm aware of is D-Pain. Extremely good and funny.”

His debut CD The Birthinating was released in October, 2010. Regarding one of the songs, “Don’t Ask Don’t Intel,” Johnson says “It was written for my friend from Mexico City, who is being sued by the Intel Corporation for using the word ‘intel’ in his news service, which of course has nothing to do with Intel Corporation.” A video was shot for the song as well.

Another song takes a shot at a certain type of bar patron.

“You’re a douchebag, that’s the only explanation/ for the same mistakes that you keep on making.”

“Think of it as a public service announcement,” says Johnson of “Rules and Laws,” the comedic song and video he created with Michael Pereira (Microphone Mike). “Shot at the Casbah, it’s me speaking — or yelling — at all those obnoxious people who just don’t get the art of ordering a drink.”

“Wait your turn, we know where you are/ that’s why the hell we’re on this side of the bar.”

“It ain’t like you see on TV/ we ain’t friends and I ain’t doing therapy. Once you get stupid, you’re out the door/ we got a goon squad, that’s what we’re paying ’em for.”

Despite the common perception that hip-hop events can be dangerous, Johnson says, “So far, it’s been a lot safer [than rock and roll].... I’ve been injured countless times on stage. My old band Tourettes Lautrec used to end each show with the guitarist flying into me behind the drums.” The same group played what he recalls as his “worst gig ever, New York City in 1999. I was too drunk to play and embarrassed the shit out of myself in front of 500 people. That was not incredible.”

He says neither rock nor rap has ever paid well enough to quit bartending. “I’ve had zero cents and owed people money probably a hundred times in my life. In fact, if someone is reading this and I owe you money, I’m sorry, but I’m still pretty thin over here. Someday, though, I promise.”

As for lyrics, he says “It’s not funny until you asphyxiate or wet yourself. Puddle that shit.”

As of 2012, the comedic rapper is now backed by a DJ crew: Grand Marceny, Hype Woman Extraordinaire, and newest addition Dub Baloney. Johnson also plays with Wha?, is a goth-punk band he formed in 2012 alongside keyboardist Tracy Wooley (of Beehive & the Barracudas, formerly of Tourette's Lautrec and Tammy Faye), with Kaoss Pad and David Robles (the Marsupials).

Johnson also plays with Wha?, is a goth-punk band he formed in 2012 alongside keyboardist Tracy Wooley (of Beehive & the Barracudas, formerly of Tourette's Lautrec and Tammy Faye), with Kaoss Pad and David Robles (the Marsupials).

Johnson became a published novelist in 2014 with his book A Shadow Cast in Dust, an urban fantasy mostly set in Golden Hill. A sequel was released in 2016. “Blood Silver, the second installment of the Webworld trilogy, takes the story of A Shadow Cast in Dust forward three months to a convergence of several groups swirling around Buddy Figgins, the boy who escaped the dreaded warehouses,” he says. “Finally, found by those searching for him, Buddy kicks off a chaotic chain of events. Spells are cast. The Web is twisted by the Council and their foes, some of which may be playing both sides.”

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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