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Jamal Edwards dies

By | Published on Monday 21 February 2022

Jamal Edwards

SBTV founder Jamal Edwards has died, aged 31, it was confirmed last night. In a statement, his mother, TV presenter Brenda Edwards, said that he had died on Sunday morning following a ”sudden illness”.

“It is with the deepest heartache that I confirm that my beautiful son Jamal Edwards passed away yesterday morning after a sudden illness”, said Brenda Edwards, in a statement shared by Loose Women on Twitter. “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 ask for privacy to grieve this unimaginable loss”, she added. “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”.

A highly successful entrepreneur and media figure, Edwards began filming friends rapping in 2006, aged fifteen, setting up a YouTube channel for his videos the following year. SBTV – taking its name from his own rap moniker, SmokeyBarz – became an early online media outlet for many artists who went on to become successful – particularly in the grime scene. Stormzy, Dave, Skepta, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé and many more all received early support from the platform.

The YouTube channel grew into a successful business, broadening its reach while still maintaining its grounding in British black music. Edwards also worked on fashion projects, published a book on achieving success in business, launched a record label, directed music videos and more. He was also awarded an MBE for services to music in 2014, and became an ambassador for Prince Charles’ youth charity The Prince’s Trust.

Such was his popularity in the music industry and beyond, many tributes were shared on social media as news of Edwards’ death began to spread yesterday.

Dave tweeted: “Thank you for everything, words can’t explain”, while AJ Tracey mourned the loss of a “West London legend”. George The Poet said: “So many of us owe our careers to you bro”.

Radio 1 presenter Greg James wrote: “This is absolutely horrible news. A truly wonderful, kind and funny man whose sole purpose was to encourage and support other people. The amount of love from some of the biggest artists in the world shows just how influential and pioneering he was”.

Comedian Mo Gilligan, who hosted the BRIT Awards earlier this month, which was attended by Edwards, said: “A truly humble and blessed soul. Your legacy will live on for years and you’ve inspired a whole generation”.

Rapper and comedian Ben Bailey-Smith recalled on Instagram: “I first met this visionary as a kid, when he was no more than 15/16 years old. He was local to me, had passion, positivity and a determination to bring out the best in people to an extent I had never before witnessed in someone so young”.

“I used to host an open mic for young rappers with my friends back in Carnaby 03/04/05 and he would always come film on his lil Sony Handycam – way before any of us had camera phones or anything. One night he told me he was uploading his recordings to YouTube – I was like ‘what the fuck is YouTube?’ – THAT’S how far me and my man go back”.

“He never stopped contacting me, checking in, or just saying whagwarn – even when he was way busier than I ever was. We repped west London together as kids with nothing, we repped Grenfell together as men with influence – he never let me stop believing in the transformative power of youth and the importance of investing in young people”.

“I’m talking about a guy that genuinely believed that you could gain more from helping people than any money or job or fame could ever give you. And irrespective of the incredible success he had, he never ever lost his love for others”.