Music entrepreneur and YouTube star Jamal Edwards has died, aged 31.
Jamal Edwards founded SBTV, an urban music platform where artists like Dave, Ed Sheeran, and Jessie J gained recognition. He was the son of Loose Women panellist Brenda Edwards, who described him as an “inspiration” to many whose “legacy lives on”.
Edwards leaves behind a lasting legacy on the UK music scene, having founded the YouTube channel SBTV from his bedroom in 2006 after getting a video camera for Christmas.
Edwards was a teenager when he started filming artists rapping and performing. The videos gained thousands of views on his channel.
The online media platform was used as a springboard for the careers of a long list of artists, including Stormzy, Krept & Konan, Ed Sheeran, Dave, J Hus, and AJ Tracey, at a time when UK music, especially rap, began to stagnate.
While police were using the controversial risk-assessment form 696 to shut down grime gigs, SBTV showed the genre could thrive online.
The channel became crucial in developing and growing a broad listener base for artists and, ultimately, for grime.
When Edwards launched the channel, the top 100 charts didn’t feature any UK rappers, and it was rappers from the United States who were getting the numbers to chart.
Almost 16 years later, the British music scene has changed dramatically, and many artists who gained prominence on SBTV now regularly appear in the charts and sell-out stadium tours.
Its content shifted from grime and dance music to other genres as the channel expanded.
In addition to giving rising stars a platform to display their talents, Jamal conducted the first online interviews in the UK with Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Wiz Khalifa.
His legacy lives on
Paying tribute to her son, Brenda Edwards said: “It is with the deepest heartache that I confirm that my beautiful son Jamal Edwards passed away yesterday morning after a sudden illness. Myself, his sister Tanisha, and the rest of his family and friends are completely devastated. He was the centre of our world.
“As we come to terms with his passing, we asked for privacy to grieve this unimaginable loss. I would like to thank everyone for their messages of love and support. Jamal was an inspiration to myself and so many. Our love for him lives on; his legacy lives on. Long live Jamal Edwards MBE, MBA, PhD.”
Stars including Dave, Dua Lipa, Idris Elba, AJ Tracey, Rita Ora, and Trevor Nelson are among the many who have paid tribute to an “inspiration”.