What you need to know:
- The musician’s songs are still played by FM stations and in clubs today, indicating just how good he was.
- Almost two decades after his death, his legacy lives on through the artistes he left behind.
It’s been 19 years since Issah Mmari Wangui, popularly known as E-Sir, died in a road accident along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway after a concert at the Afraha Stadium.
Widely regarded as one of the finest rappers ever to emerge on the Kenyan entrainment scene, his music still fills the airwaves on FM stations across the country, particularly the timeless hit “Boomba Train”.
At just 21, E-Sir inspired the youth and transformed the hip hop culture. Almost two decades after his death, his legacy lives on through the artistes he left behind and a new song, “Bandana ya E-Sir”, has brought back good memories.
In his short but highly successful career, E-Sir collaborated with many other artistes, including David Mathenge, alias Nameless, who was with him on the day the cruel hand of death robbed him from us.
To keep his legacy alive, Nameless recently teamed up with other artistes to pay tribute to E-Sir in a song that has been well received by music lovers.
The song celebrates the life of a Kenyan legend and introduces his legacy to a new generation of artistes and music lovers.
“I was having a conversation with Nelly the Goon, who is part of the Gengetone wave and he was telling me how growing up, he knew about E-Sir being this cool fresh guy. He did not know anything else apart from that. He wanted to do a song that brings out E-Sir’s qualities,” Nameless said.
Bandana ya E-Sir
“Bandana ya E-Sir” is a tribute to the late fallen rapper and brings together artistes who represent different generations. They are Nelly the Goon, who is part of the Ochungulo Family, Nameless, Habib, Dmore and Trio Mio.
Nameless and Habib represent the older generation of Genge music while Nelly the Goon, Dmore and Trio Mio play Gengetone, the new genre.
“Habib and I spoke and we agreed that this year, we needed to do something that would introduce him to the younger generation. Something that will let people know what made E-Sir great,” Nameless said.
“Bandana ya E-Sir” video also features Wahu, rapper Nyashinski, Juacali and Mr Lenny. E-Sir’s hits, such as “Boomba Train”, “Moss Moss” and “Hamunitishi” have remained relevant, almost two decades later.
“There is a lot we can learn from E-Sir. First of all, he was a fun-loving person, who was passionate about music and everything he did. He was also humble and this is important in this industry,” Nameless said.
“Anytime I do something for E-Sir I always do it with a passion because I could have died in that accident. After that accident my life also changed because the two of us were synergised in terms of our friendship and work,” he said.
At Nelly the Goon’s house, a huge photo of E-Sir hangs at one section of the wall.
“Boomba Train is one of E-Sir’s greatest hits but then after a short while he died. As I became an artist, I wanted to learn what made him so great in such a short period of time. If you look at the industry, so many things have changed,” he said.
Celebrating E-Sir's life
“Right now people from my generation want to just get famous without putting in the work. That’s why you get so many of them fade away as quickly as they came. We need to understand that everything has a process. We can learn a lot from people like E-Sir, Nameless and Juacali, who started way before us and are still in the game. They are good examples of the kind of legacy we should all aspire to have,” he said.
E-Sir’s brother, Habib, recalls their childhood days while growing up in South C estate, Nairobi.
“My brother was an adventurous boy. From when we were just children, he was famous kid in our neighbourhood in South C, but he was always humble and hardworking. When we used to go to dancing competitions he would always win, emulating dance moves of American pop icon Michael Jackson,” Habib said.
“Right now we are celebrating his life and contributions to the industry. “Bandana ya E-Sir” clearly shows that we can collaborate with different artistes, young and old. If we all put our differences aside, we shall take this industry to the next level,” he added.
Habib started his musical career after his brother’s death. At the time, he felt the pressure to fill the void that E-Sir had left.
“I felt the pressure but I matured and understood that everyone has their own path in life and dreams they want to fulfil. There will never be another E-Sir. I cannot fill in his shoes, and when I realised this I started to focus on building Habib the brand. I know my brother is happy with this tribute that unites different generations of artistes,” he said.