An Exclusive Interview With Rapper ATM, The Artist Of The “Bernie Lean”
By Kevin Mendez
Can you Bernie Lean? Pictures courteous of rapper, ATM.
Rapper ATM’s “Bernie Lean” song has taken the O.co Coliseum by storm.
Everywhere you look someone is doing the “Bernie Lean” dance, from the fans in the stands to the A’s staff and the players themselves. It has become extremely popular to say the least. The “Bernie Lean” music video that was shot at the home of the Athletics at the end of August should be popular as well especially since the fans, staff and players are all featured in it.
“The fans should really get a kick out of it,” said ATM in a recent phone interview.
The Santa Monica-based rapper may be more of an NBA guy, but he is a fan of all sports. A few weeks ago, the only thing ATM knew about the Oakland Athletics were the facts that they are a Major League team and the movie “Moneyball” was made about them. I think it is safe to say he knows a lot more about the A’s now.
ATM’s rap career started in middle school when he began writing poetry. He created his own style of Dr. Seuss-type rhymes and throughout his years in high school, these rhymes slowly turned into funny parody songs. Since he grew up listening to the radio and watching MTV, commercial music was all he knew. That is what helped influence his decision to turn his parody songs into party songs.
Although he enjoyed making music, he did not take it seriously until he got into college. As a student at University of California, Riverside he began to perform shows on campus and at local venues. Once he noticed that people liked his music, he realized that he could do it for a living.
ATM had no idea about the “Bernie culture” in Oakland when he made the “Bernie Lean” song. He knew of the general popularity of it from the “Weekend at Bernie’s” movies, and he had seen a lot of people doing the zombie-like dance, but he had no idea that everyone was doing it at the O.co Coliseum.
“We needed to get this [Bernie Lean] dance in the club; it cannot be some dance people do for just three seconds,” said ATM when asked about his inspiration in making the song. “So we decided to make the song.”
Twitter played a significant role in the “Bernie Lean” song coming to Oakland. ATM randomly tweeted the song to Oakland A’s center fielder Coco Crisp, who made it his walk-up song in mid-August.
He also randomly tweeted the song to me as well. Four days later, I was at the A’s game when I heard the song played over the coliseum speakers as Coco Crisp’s walk-up song. I tweeted ATM, informing him of the news and he asked me to send him a video of it.. His friend had also told him that it was being used at the A’s games, but it wasn’t until he saw the video that he believed it.
“After that I talked to Coco on Twitter and he set me up with all the right people to get in touch with,” ATM said. “Coco is the real reason any of this stuff happened; he was really helpful.”
ATM visited the coliseum along with his friend IMD, the other rapper featured on the “Bernie Lean” track, and the cameraman, Ryan Fantone, to shoot the music video. They were able to get clips of the staff, fans and players all doing the “Bernie Lean” dance.
ATM emphasized how kind, classy, and respectful all the fans were and how comfortable he felt with everyone. People asked for pictures of ATM and IMD, and he said he felt completely at home at the coliseum, although he was 373 miles away from his real home.
“The players were all very nice, the staff was really nice, the fans were amazing,” ATM said. “It was a very humbling experience and I think the fans are going to love this video.”
ATM said the best part, however, was when Coco said he would hit a home run for us in the game following the video shoot. “Then Coco leads off the game and my song is playing, everybody is doing the ‘Bernie Lean’ and then in his first at bat he hits a home run,” ATM said. “I had never ‘Bernie Leaned’ so hard in my life; everything came together at that moment. It was amazing, everyone was happy and it could not have been more perfect.”
The video has recently been released and can be found at the official website of the Oakland Athletics.
“Me, IMD and Ryan had a great time,” ATM said. “We are very thankful for the opportunity and we are all Oakland A’s fans now.”