Jamal Edwards, a British entrepreneur and YouTube celebrity, has died at 31. His company told the BBC.
He is the founder of SBTV (an online platform for urban music) which helped to launch the careers of artists such as Dave, Ed Sheeran, and Skepta.
Chart-topper AJ Tracey was among the first to pay tribute online. He tweeted “RIP Jamal Edwards West London Legend Status”.
Edwards was born in Luton and was awarded an MBE in 2014 for his services to music.
He was also appointed ambassador to the Prince’s Trust youth charity, which assists young people in setting up their own businesses.
He was reported to have been at the Brit Awards earlier in the month, and had performed as a DJ on Saturday night at a gig north London. His death was announced on Sunday morning, but no other details have been made public.
Many artists in both genres have paid tributes to Edwards who was a pioneer in British rap music and grime music.
Lady Leshurr , a rapper, tweeted the news of her husband’s death. She praised him for his contributions to her career.
He gave me opportunities after opportunities to show my talent from Brum to London. She wrote that we need to keep his brand and name alive.
Mobo Awards organizers sent out a tweet saying that they were “deeply sorry” to hear of Edwards’ passing.
It said: “As @SBTVonline’s founder, his pioneering work and legacy in British music & culture will live on.” We are thinking of his family and friends.
Jaykae, a Birmingham rapper, is one example of an act that SBTV has helped to succeed. Jaykae, a Birmingham-based rapper, was the featured rapper on Top 20 hit Flowers in 2012 but his videos have been on SBTV for over ten years.
Jaykae described Edwards as “a legend” and tweeted : Jaykae : “I believe I can speak on behalf of us all as artists/supporters of UK grime/rap scene when he says I owe him so much!” Sometimes helped me without even knowing it.
Sadiq Khan , London Mayor, stated on Twitter British music and entertainment has “lost one of its brightest stars”.
The Voice newspaper, which caters to the needs of British-born blacks, and rapper Dave were among those who posted tributes online.
Mo Gilligan, comedian and presenter, hosted the Brit Awards this year. tweeted “A truly humble, blessed soul. Your legacy will be remembered for many years and you have inspired a whole new generation.
Edwards was born to Brenda Edwards, a singer and Loose Women hoster. He first started filmmaking when his parents bought him a video camera for Christmas at 15.
He stated that he had filmed his friends singing or rapping and started to upload them to YouTube so other friends could see them.
He said that his videos received mixed reviews. Some people didn’t like them but others liked them. “So I put them on YouTube to let everyone see them. It just grew from there.”
SBTV, Edwards’ London-based platform to discover emerging artists and named after his rapper moniker SmokeyBarz, has grown to 1.22 Million subscribers on YouTube.
It featured early music videos by Stormzy, Stormzy, and J Hus – as well as dozens of British acts that were not widely known at that time.
Edwards’ profile rose and he began to enter the fashion industry. He walked the catwalk for Hermes, then fronted a Kurt Geiger collection. Then he posed for Primark to show his belief that affordable fashion was important.
A book that he wrote was Self Belief, which he described as a combination of a memoir & a business manual. It is called How to Be a Success on your Own Terms.
Edwards also co-founded JE Delve, a grassroots charity providing youth clubs and learning and job opportunities for young people in west London. He moved from Luton with his family.
He also worked with several other youth charities, and made frequent visits to talk to teenagers, including at Acton High School as well as West London College, where he studied, to answer their questions about self-motivation and business success.
Rupa Huq, Ealing MP, shared some photos of Edwards via social media to pay tribute to the “local hero”.