SBTV founder and music entrepreneur Jamal Edwards dies aged 31 | Jamal Edwards

Jamal Edwards, known for founding media platform SBTV, which helped catapult grime and a wave of new artists to a global audience, died Sunday morning at the age of 31.

Edwards was also a director, author, DJ, entrepreneur and designer, and received an MBE in 2014 – when he was 24 – for his musical work.

The careers of some of the world’s most successful musicians – including Ed Sheeran, Dave and Jessie J in a long list – were launched via SBTV, Edwards’ platform, which started as a YouTube channel, before being signed by major labels.

Jamal Edwards’ SBTV platform has over a million subscribers. Photography: David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Edwards said he started SBTV “on a £20 phone” while still at school and turned it into a leading online youth broadcaster. YouTube Sound channel was established in 2006 and now has 1.2 million subscribers and nearly a billion total views.

The channel, named after Edwards’ rap name, SmokeyBarz, featured early music from artists including Stormzy, Rita Ora, Krept & Konan, Bugzy Malone and many more.

“I’ve always thought of grime as the punk movement, in terms of the lyrics and the rebellious attitude,” Edwards told The Guardian in a 2017 interview.

A trademark format was SBTV’s F64 – 64 fresh bars of new and original lyrics – which featured everyone from established artists like Wiley to newcomers and rising stars.

Edwards was born in Luton in 1990 and grew up in Acton, West London. He earned a BTec degree in Media Motion Pictures from Ealing College and worked at the Topman chain of stores to support himself financially while developing SBTV.

When he found success, Edwards undertook extensive philanthropic work, particularly in the area of ​​mental health and the funding of youth centers. He is working to break taboos on men’s mental health, speaking of his own anxiety, and in 2021 is launching a project to redevelop and reopen youth centres.

Tributes have been paid to Edwards on social media by people in the music industry, politics, sports and beyond.

Rapper AJ Tracey posted: “RIP Jamal Edwards, West London legend status.” Dave added: “Thank you for everything…words can’t explain.” Lethal Bizzle called Edwards “one of the pioneers of British music”. Musician Example wrote on Instagram, “I can’t believe you’re gone. 31 years. I can’t find the words right now.

Edwards was also an ambassador for the Prince of Wales’ charity, the Prince’s Trust.

“Today I was on set when I heard the tragic news that my good friend Jamal Edwards had passed away and I am honestly heartbroken,” Bafta-winning actor Adam Deacon tweeted. “Jamal was one of the kindest, most down to earth and humble men I have met in this industry. He always gave me time even when no one else did.

Deacon added: “He was an inspiration and what he achieved in life was truly remarkable. I am thinking of his friends and family during this devastating time. RIP Jamal Edwards.

“Rest in peace Jamal Edwards,” said England and Chelsea footballer Reece James. “I’m at a loss for words.”

“Give thanks to God that you did what he sent you to do ❤️ Many of us owe our careers to you, my brother”, George the Poet noted on Twitter. “Thank you for everything,”

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