There was a time Kenyan music was the heartbeat of East African showbiz. There was a time every artiste in whatever part of the world prayed to their gods that they get a show in Nairobi. There was a time that Kenyan musicians were demigods. That time, the rest played second fiddle. And that time, Kenya had an artiste by the name E-sir. Every Kenyan has heard about E-sir, has listened to his music and let’s all agree that he had a Midas touch. When the lad laid his hands on a track, it came out Golden. Let’s talk Boomba Train, Hamnitishi, Kamata, Saree, MNoss Moss, to mention just a few. E-sir is arguably the best rapper Kenya has ever produced.
For the millennials, E-sir was a rapper signed under Ogopa Djs whose real names were Issah Mmari Wangui. He was already a star at the age of 19 and defined the Kenyan music sound in the company of Nameless, Big Pin, Wahu and his own little brother Habib. The year 2003 saw him clinch three Kisima awards, Best song of the Year for Boomba Train, Best Male and Hip Hop artiste of the Year and Best Album of the Year for Nimefika. In the same year, he was nominated for a Kora award as the Best East African Artiste and the following year (he was dead by then) he was nominated for Best East African Album for Nimefika.
Then mystery surrounding his death has always remained unknown, and the events prior to his death as well. However, what the public knows is that he was coming from Afraha Stadium from a performance promoting his album when the tragedy struck, on 16 March, a day like this. E-sir’s death came at the peak of his career when all the stars had welcomed him into the galaxy, he was causing ripples within and beyond, and there seemed no boundaries to what he would do. He had raised the industry single-handedly. His fluent Swahili fused with sheng’ also stole the hearts of many. But when his career was taking off, he was involved in a car crash with fellow label-mate nameless. So much has been said. At the time of his death, questions were raised concerning his death. Why did he die alone while they were two in the car? His bitter fans went ahead to accuse Nameless of playing a part in the tragedy, alleging that he was jealous of his success.
In an interview some time back about the incident Nameless said, ““We performed the night before and we were all rested. We departed at around 11am and got distracted by the view of Lake Elementaita for a quick second. That was the last conversation we had, the car had started to swore off so when the driver tried to get back to the road he lost total control and unfortunately the car rolled a couple of times“.
Since E-sir’s departure to glory much has happened in the local music scene. We no longer lead musically since Tanzanians are taking everything home. Our local musicians are no longer demigods but fellow hustlers we fight for space with in Citi Hoppas. The pioneers that started this thing aren’t singing any longer but, posing with nude socialites and filling their Instagram timelines with weed and booze. And wait, Ogopa Djs is no longer Ogopa Djs.
Is E-sir happy wherever he is? That the industry he lay a strong foundation for is in a sorry state and the artistes are being conned their money? What if he was living today, would he be like them or there would be change?
Rest In Peace E-sir.