“Chatter,” a Rap by Austen Berj Brooks

We are coming up on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving – the day Austen died in 2014.  The actual date is November 25, which falls on the day after Thanksgiving this year, but it’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving that most hits home with his family.  Not a good day to remember – probably the worst day in each of our respective lives.  This year on the 25th, I plan to put up a Christmas tree, put the wreath on the door, and generally bring some magic and cheer into the house. Whatever else I do will write its own script – you never know how you are going to feel until it’s upon you.

Overriding that sentiment, however, is the gratefulness I feel to have access to Austen’s thoughts, ideas, creativity and words. It’s a part of him still here, left behind, giving us insight into his life (and ours), his world, his struggles, his triumphs, his goals, his humanity, his spirit. It is in that spirit that I share the following rap with you.

“Chatter” was published by Austen via YouTube on February 10, 2013, when he was a senior at Indiana University.  I could not find the written words anywhere, so I have endeavored to transcribe it.  He called it “Chatter” and set the words to beats by J Dilla. On YouTube, he used 3 photos, which I have incorporated in the text.  I add a photo at the end, which I took in Paris in March 2016 and call “Chatter.” 

Here is the original music version of “Chatter” from February 2013, followed by the words:



Photo of Austen taken in Paris by Suzanne in March 2011.

kick back relax
these raps will make you relapse
on old school tracks
hitting notes like a sax
silky smooth like honey
we get stuck like wax
with the facts to adapt
got the world in my lap
get the hugs, throw the daps
what I love, get it back
I’m the opposite of wack
been a student not a truant
graduated to the stacks
but you know about that
went from zero to the max
I’m a hero for the mass
and my struggles and my tax
might of doubled from the last

when in trouble break the glass
I’ll come running like the flash
I get high without the grass
and the lack is clearly best
and the music let me grasp why I got a second chance
almost threw away like trash
when I threw away my stash
but my using in the past
had enough and that’s that


Photo of Austen taken in Paris by Suzanne in March 2011.

now the only time I crash….

now, why
check my hit list
murder without a witness
hit it out the park
going home like Odysseus
nothing but darkness in my past
now lets find a give
no more waiting, contemplating
it’s my time to live
no more waking and then baking
even wine and cigs
no complaining
past abating, ready to begin
got the world in my sights
happy like a kid

from now until forever I’ll be running this
everything I ever wanted
ain’t bout money bitch


Photo taken by Austen in downtown Bloomington, Indiana, December 5, 2010.


Austen Berj Brooks, February 10, 2013


Suzanne’s photo “Chatter”taken in Paris, March 2016, dedicated to ABB.

“Mind Field” Rap Published Posthumously|InsideOut Literary Art’s new online literary journal.

MIND FIELD – Austen Berj Brooks

undr scr review aims to give young writers a voice internationally. In lieu of this ongoing mission, we are honored to have the opportunity to publish the work of Austen Berj Brooks,

By Austen Berj Brooks, November 2012

Life is a journey, yo, not a destination;
I’m anxious while I’m waiting to escape annihilation.
The basis of my trouble is distant and evasive;
It bubbles up and suffocates the bliss of my creation.
My history sticks with me and keeps me in the basement;
Defiantly I color it with my imagination.
A useful gift I’m usin’ it for radical creatin’;

My words of warning are a lesson;
All the answers lie within reflective introspection.

The present is a gift but the future’s still in question;
My heart’s about to quit and my journey’s with my essence.

I wanna make something that lasts that’s worth more than gold.
My mind is a mine field I have to patrol;
Scavenge eternal secrets between the blasts to unfold
my future and past together like they’ve been wove,
Like my hands are tied and tethered with one pressed on the stove.
I don’t have time to stand in line when I’m tryin’ to reach my goals;
Hindsight’s 20/20 it took 20 years to see they stole
innocence and happiness in quantities I do not know.
Accept my humble challenge, keep your balance, truth is what I show,
But only if you seek.
Cause some of us were born to see, while others never get a peek.
The one who gets caught in between is lost forever in his dreams.
I’m just saying what I’ve seen – drugs are fun but shame of fiends.
Throw a kid into a cell – does that help him to get clean?
I’ve got friends whose lives are damaged,
they were young, they couldn’t manage.
They grew up and found themselves
distant shells of former selves.

Looking deep into your eyes
still I’ll never truly find
what’s projected in your mind.
We connect with honest lies;
I’m in love with cloudy skies.
How do I fall for what I despise?

“In Rhymes”

From the beginning of time
to a million years in the future I find
my soul and my mind come together in rhymes
intertwined by these lines I so smoothly unwind
to the ears of the person with taste that’s like mine

Austen Berj Brooks, August 20, 2011


“At Lake Ontario,” photo taken by Austen, posted on Facebook on June 14, 2013.

We Only Get One Shot At This: A Rap

Austen created this rap during his senior year at Indiana University. He posted it on YouTube in February 2013 and sent me the link to listen to. I remember calling him back and asking him to send me the words, which he texted to me. Because I got a new phone in 2014, I lost any texts I previously had, and I thought I had lost the words to this rap forever. But, in one of those mysterious moments, the text from 2013 seems to have shown up on my iPhone at the bottom of my messages screen. Voilá! Just like that. So, here is the original music version, followed by the words.

We Only Get One Shot At This: A Rap

we only get one shot at this
I thought of this
reflecting on my only wish
to be myself and follow bliss
I see the end of all this shit

my suffering is yours and yours is mine
I’m confined to a mind that’s got 2 times the rhymes
but two times the problems
and I’ma leave you looking foolish if you ever doubt em
count em, got issues in the thousands

these tissues I ran out em
but I possess a spirit that they’ll never have
I asked why then but now I understand
oceans and land
open doors at my command
all white sand
all blue sky
I spit what i been through and it gets me high
addicted to anything that money could buy
constricted but love has the answers to why
and what and who
the fake shits through
deep in my mind i knew
this youngins overdue
not even 22
sick flow I microbrew
wrote these poems for the down but not out we cool

dream dream dream dream

and that’s me
I’m straight to the point
it’s cool you can skip me I’m straight on that joint
Michigan king they about to anoint
wars just a pawn move for chasing that coin-fucking chess
for that chest
we got problems at home
humble young but the best so I sit on the throne
spit my heart and my soul till the day that I’m gone
I’m my own harshest critic and I proved myself wrong
killed the dark part of me it’s exhumed on this song
just a kid with a dream to be happy all along
music is my gateway to bubble up like a bong
for my brother and my sister and my dad and my mom
for my friends who still fighting who got caught up among
this damn hurricane
self-medicating pain war in our own brains
nothing you can say
to explain away what drives us insane

trying to find who to blame
but its all the same trying to survive today
but its ok
just come vibe with me

dream dream dream dream dream

fuck all the sentimentality
I design my reality
lucid when I’m asleep I’m jumping straight off the balcony
into the deep abyss of mythological bliss
intoxicating and swift
indoctrinated this wish
the first breath of oxygens so delicious
spirited curiosity
my faithful mistress

Austen Berj Brooks, February 26, 2013; beat by Austen’s brother, Lee Gaizak Brooks.