Jamal Edwards, pioneering music entrepreneur, dead at 31

His mother confirmed on Monday that her “beautiful” and “inspiring” son died on Sunday morning of a “sudden illness”.

Brenda Edwards, who is a panelist on British TV show ‘Loose Women’, paid a moving tribute to her son in a statement shared on the show’s social media accounts, saying she and her family were “devastated “.

“It is with the deepest sorrow that I confirm that my beautiful son Jamal Edwards passed away yesterday morning following a sudden illness. Myself, his sister Tanisha and the rest of his family and friends are completely devastated. He was the center of our world,” the statement said.

She continued, “As we come to terms with his passing, we ask for privacy to mourn this unimaginable loss. I want to thank everyone for their messages of love and support. Jamal has been an inspiration to me. and for many. Our love for him lives on, his legacy lives on. Long live Jamal Edwards MBE, MBA and PHD.”

Edwards was a pioneering figure in British rap and grime music. Raised in Acton, West London, he entered the music scene aged 15 when his parents gave him a video camera for Christmas.

In 2006, he launched SBTV (SmokeyBarz TV) as an online platform to showcase emerging artists. It gave early exposure and helped launch the careers of artists like Dave, Jessie J, Ed Sheeran and Skepta.

YouTube channel SBTV now has 1.2 million subscribers and nearly a billion total views.

“Everyone in my area was an MC and I was like, ‘Okay, if everyone is MCing, what else can I do around music? ‘” he told BBC Radia 1Xtra in 2017.

“I remember I was just sitting there and thinking, ‘Why can’t I find them online?’ and if they were online they were just low quality versions so I was like “Okay, cool, I’ll try to film the people in my area and upload it to YouTube” . And from there it just started to build and grow.”

As his success grew, Edwards turned to philanthropy as an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity run by the Prince of Wales that helps young people start their own businesses. In 2014, at the age of 24, he received an MBE (Member of the British Empire) award for his services to music.

Following news of his death, tributes poured in from music industry heavyweights, sports stars and political figures.

Singer Rita Ora shared a photo of her and Edwards on Instagram, captioning, “My very first interview was with you.” Jamal, our endless discussions about music and the belief you had in me and so many of us before you even believed in ourselves.

‘I am devastated. No words can describe how grateful I am to have been in your presence. Thanks for everything you showed me. My heart goes out to @brendaedwardsglobal and the whole family. TEAR.”

“RIP Jamal Edwards. Thank God for doing what He sent you ❤️ Many of us owe our careers to you bro,” George the Poet wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for everything.”

Chelsea and England footballer Reece James added his condolences, tweeting: “Rest in peace Jamal Edwards. I’m at a loss for words.”

Edwards’ last Instagram post was a birthday tribute to his “brother”, Ed Sheeran. Sharing a vintage photo of the couple in Marbella, Spain, he wrote: “Happy birthday OG Ed. Glad to have you in my life bro. You know you’ve been buddies for a long time when you lose count of the years! Keep breaking it and inspiring us all G!”


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