This past Saturday marked the 10 year anniversary of E-Sir‘s passing.
The thought alone sinks my heart.
Anyone you ask who ever met the guy, whether in a studio, club, classroom or in their neighborhood will tell you the same things about him. His personality and charisma overflowed. The thing that struck me about about him was that he was confident without being overly cocky and had a certain clarity and determination that followed that confidence.
I was in high school when I first ran into that particular clique of guys he used to roll with. These were the days when pretty much everyone in South B or South C knew each other by virtue of…well, being from South B or South C. I remember one day in particular, before he released “Nimefika Jo”, before the fame, the name and everything that came with it. He rapped a little bit for a group of friends and in true hazing fashion we laughed at him. One guy in particular really laughed heartlessly.
But E-Sir didn’t stop. He wasn’t looking at our faces, he was staring into middle distance. He didn’t break a beat. He kept double-timing through what I now think became “Lyrical Tongue Twister”. Through verse, chorus, verse and chorus. By the time he stopped, smiling, we were actually not laughing. We’d been listening just long enough to realize “Holy crap, this guy is pretty good.”
But again, no one really admitted anything. Just kinda nodded at the acapella and kept talking about whatever we’d been chatting about.
A few months later we were in Bandari Plaza shooting pool, knocking back 40 bob shots and we heard “Nimefika Jo”. The song came on and… we basically chanted throughout the whole chorus like groupies, laughing at how ridiculous it was that this dude…this little dude…went ahead and became famous.
We met numerous times after that. In fact, I think I saw him more and more in those last few months and weeks than I had previously. But again, it was always by virtue of having mutual friends.
Before he passed, I remember running into him quite randomly. He was walking out of a building with Nameless. At the time, I hadn’t met that dude before, so when I saw them together (somewhere in Town, I think) I figured I’d ignore them. I had pride issues and I was not going to risk not being remembered.
But was I wrong. For as much as they were in some sort of a hurry, he stopped to say hi and said he had to go for an interview and a concert. I asked how Habib was and he gave me a funny answer or other. I don’t remember much else from the random chat, other than it was awkward. It was either later on the same day or the next day when my mother called me to tell me that she had just seen a news bulletin on a car crash…
A few months later, I walked into this music store that used to be on the ground floor of 20th Century; the only place I knew on my route home that sold original local CD’s and bought a few copies of his album. I hadn’t yet heard the whole thing, but KISS and Capital FM were doing a pretty good job of making sure I’d heard most of it. I put it in my mom’s car and sat in the parking lot listening to it when I got home.
Listening to “Hamunitishi” was equally part saddening and intimidating. The thought of having a lot of dreams and ambitions but not nearly half the gall to follow them through the way he did was coupled with the sad realization that had he not followed them through, he’d have still been with us.
Something in his intonation made me sure that given another chance, he’d probably have done the same thing. There was something admirable about that. And it may have been that day or the next day, but somewhere along the line I decided I would not be that guy that “almost” did something, that almost made a dream come true. I figured the only life worth living is a life lived fully and to this day, I adhere to that.
He may or may not have changed my life through his life and his music, but he surely sparked the thought that did. And for that, to me, he will always be legend.
RIP, good brother.
Bonus: E-Sir Tracks
E-Sir – Lyrical Tongue Twister
E-Sir – Saree
E-Sir – Moss Moss (ft Brenda)
E-Sir – Hamunitishi
E-Sir – Kamata (ft Lenny)
E-Sir – Bamba (ft. Big Pin & K-rupt [RIP])
E-Sir – Boomba Train (ft. Nameless)
E-Sir – Coast II Coast
E-Sir – Leo Ni Leo