Born Issah Mmari, on May 20, 1981 in California Estate, and raised in South C estate Nairobi, Kenya, E-Sir was a Kenyan hip hop artist signed to the Ogopa DJs label who was famous for his deft lyrical ability and command of the Swahili language. He first came to be known in 2001 by his song “Jo”, a song done in the same style as Black Rob’s “Whoa.” He came into the Kenyan music scene like a sweet surprise, no one expected him yet everyone loved him. He quickly won over our hearts and whether young or old, everyone stopped to listen to this kid. His music was something new, his lyrical ability unrivalled and as most would say, he opened the door for Kenyan rap to prosper. He worked with the likes of Big Pin, K-Rupt and Nameless; people you may rightfully call the forefathers of Kenyan music. He was the reason we know Ogopa Deejays. His name was E-sir and everyone knew that name! Those lucky enough to have met him or attend one of his concerts define the then 21 year old as a true star. You don’t get many of those. The Kenyan music industry especially, has not had many of those. His music was a combination of youth, passion and talent. E-sir was a star that many watched and looked up to and that his life on earth was to be so short-lived came as a shock and blow to many. He was a legend.
E-Sir died in a road accident on March 16, 2003, while in the company of fellow label mate Nameless. He was on his way back from a concert in Nakuru town that was to help promote the album. His fans were shocked and grieved for days on end after hearing the news of his death. His death was considered coming at a time when his career was starting to take off.
He was a star in an era that needed him and without whom, Kenya would not be where it is, music wise anyway. E-sir is the kid who went after his dreams and despite his age, led Kenya as a country towards bigger and better music. He was a poet, a mentor and inspiration to many. Hits such as “Mos Mos”, “Boomba Train”, “Leo Ni Leo” and “Hamunitishi” ruled our younger days and trended before we even knew there was such a thing as trending. He is the reason there is such a thing as sheng! E-sir gave us more than we might ever appreciate. Though to live in the past is foolish, here’s one part of history we must never forget. Let’s learn from him. To be dreamers, to be doers, to die legends!
12 years on, the Kenyan music industry remembers this revolutionary.
Credits: Annrita Kiriamiti