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The E-Sir fever that will never fade

By Kelvin Imende | November 2nd 2014
It is never an easy task to get to the Kenyan music limelight unlike Issah Mmari, popularly known as E-sir, who made it as early as 19 years. Unfortunately, he left us too soon.

E-sir was born on 20th may 1981 in Nairobi’s California estate and raised in South C. He started his education at St. Anne’s Junior Academy and later attended high school at Brookhouse Senior School where he started rhyming and writing poems, initially for fun.

It was not an easy road to success but he chose just the right lane; hip hop and kapuka – the genres that saw a revolution in the Kenyan music industry later.

Music Voyage

1998 is when E-sir decided to take his music career on a serious note. He had a strong urge to achieve a lifelong dream of owning a recording studio. For two years, he went around trying to find the right producer for his music. It was a long journey through “fake” managers, incompetent producers, unfaithful promoters and wishful MCs until he met DJ Luke of Ogopa DeeJays Production house. This is where his music star shone.

“They respect the artiste’s wishes and at the same time direct the artist into giving Kenyans what they want to hear,” he ones said during an interview with the December 7th, 2001 Pulse Magazine issue.

E-sir came to the music industry limelight with his first recording at Ogopa Deejays in 2001. This made a great hit titled “Jo” done in close resemblance to Black Rob’s hit song “Whoa”. This was featured on Ogopa DJ’s debut album as it was a major hit in the Kenyan music scene and a great break through for E-sir.

In 2003, he released his debut album “Nimefika” which rippled the music scene with each track virtually becoming a hit on most radio stations countrywide and regionally in their own right. The hits included “mos mos”, “boomba train”, “hamunitishi” and “leo ni leo”.

He had a total of thirteen (13) produced records at Ogopa Deejays Studio.

Awards and Nominations

2003 was a year of the ether for E-sir. During the much coveted Kisima Music Awards held on June 21st, 2003, he managed to scoop four top awards, namely;

  1. Song of the year for “Boomba Train
  2. Best male artiste of the year
  3. Best hip hop artiste of the year
  4. Best album of the year for “Nimefika

He also won the Chaguo la Teeniez Awards as the Best Male Artiste on April 17th, 2003, about a month after his death.

He was nominated as the Best East African Artist in the 2003 Kora Awards. Sadly, the 2004 Tanzania Music Awards were held when he was already deceased but his album “Nimefika” was still nominated as the Best East African Album.


E-sir’s bright future was drained in the tunnels at the peak of his career. On Sunday, March 16, 2003, E-sir died in a tragic road accident along Nakuru – Nairobi Highway on his way back to Nairobi after performing at a Nakuru concert to help promote his album. In the same car was a fellow artiste and member of the same record label, Nameless – whose real name is David Mathenge. His death dealt a major blow to the Kenyan Music Industry as it came when much was expected of him by his fans.

Following his death, his track “Maisha” featuring nameless had a posthumous release and was such a great hit both locally and regionally. Among those most affected was his younger brother Habib who is also an upcoming artiste with a couple of singles to his name, some of which he did with his partner Manga.

E-sir also recorded “bamba” featuring Big Pin and K-rupt. Unfortunately, the latter also died in a tragic carjacking incident the same year.

Up to date, he still remains the most influential Kenyan hip hop artiste in the recent past.

His music will always echo in Kenyan hearts.


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