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Jamal Edwards Has Died, Aged 31
Christian Eede , February 20th, 2022 23:35

The entrepeneur and DJ founded influential rap and grime platform SBTV in 2006, going on to boost the careers of artists such as Stormzy and Dave

Jamal Edwards, the founder of influential UK music platform SBTV, has died, aged 31, his company and management has confirmed to the BBC.

A cause of death is currently unknown, but his management confirmed that he passed away on Sunday morning (February 20).

Born in Luton, England, in 1990, Edwards later moved with his family to Acton, West London. Aged 16, he founded a YouTube channel, called SBTV, in 2006 after his parents got him a video camera as a Christmas present. Early uploads to the channel were comprised of DIY videos featuring a number of unknown grime MCs, many of them friends of Edwards, freestyling on street corners.

Edwards later spoke of how he started SBTV, which took its name from his own rap name of SmokeyBarz, "on a £20 phone." Gradually pulling in attention from many young people, the channel, and Edwards' work, later came to wider attention after featuring in a Google Chrome advert in 2011. Edwards' work with SBTV was credited with inspiring a number of other young creatives to start their own DIY platforms, and in 2014, he was awarded an MBE for services to music.

Today, SBTV boasts 1.2m subscribers, and almost 1bn total views across its uploads. It's also credited with helping to boost the careers of a number of key figures in the UK music scene as they were getting started, including Stormzy, Dave, Ed Sheeran, J Hus and Bugzy Malone, having featured them in original videos and provided a platform for video premieres.

As well as his work with SBTV, Edwards was a DJ, broadcaster and philanthropist. He was an ambassador for the Prince's Trust, the youth charity run by the Prince of Wales which helps young people set up their own companies, and also founded his own charity in JE Delve, which works to refurbish youth centres and provide opportunities to young people in the London Borough of Ealing.

A number of figures from the UK music scene paid tribute to Edwards on Sunday night, as news of his passing emerged. Rapper AJ Tracey wrote: "RIP Jamal Edwards, West London legend status." Dave added: "Thank you for everything... words cannot explain."

In a tweet, the organisers of the MOBO Awards said they were "deeply saddened" to hear of Edwards' death, adding: "As the founder of @SBTVonline, his groundbreaking work and legacy in British music and culture will live on. Our hearts and thoughts are with his friends and family."

London mayor Sadiq Khan wrote: "British music and entertainment has lost one of its brightest stars. My thoughts are with Jamal's loved ones at this terribly sad time."

Check out the SBTV catalogue via YouTube here.