Tributes for ‘local legend’ Jamal Edwards have been flowing on social media, after his company announced his sudden death on Monday (21 February).
The 31 year old British entrepreneur and YouTube star was an instrumental figure in British rap and grime music. He launched SBTV, an online urban music platform which helped kickstart the careers of artists like Dave, Ed Sheeran and Skepta.
Jamal grew up in Acton, where a mural of him was unveiled in 2021. The mural was recently visited by Ed Sheeran.
Born in Luton, Edwards was appointed an MBE for services to music in 2014. He also became an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity run by the Prince of Wales which helps young people set up their own companies.
The rapper attended the Brit Awards earlier this month and was understood to have performed as a DJ at a gig in north London on Saturday night. He died on Sunday morning, but no details have been released about his death.
Image above: Jamal’s mural in acton
West London mourns urban music ‘pioneer’
British Rapper AJ Tracey said: “RIP Jamal Edwards, west london legend status”
BBC journalist and Chiswick resident Dougal Shaw said:
“So sad to hear of the passing of Jamal Edwards, a local legend in Acton west #London, who I met a couple of times through work… RIP Jamal.”
Gunnersbury Park and Museum said:
“Terribly sad news about Jamal Edwards MBE
“A true west London legend, he founded JED, a grassroots youth project providing young people in Ealing with opportunities through music, media and sports sessions. He also refurbished and reopened four youth centres across Acton.”
A west London based fan named Josh said:
“I cannot believe this news. Rest in peace Jamal Edwards, serious icon not only for West London but the entire British music platform.”
Ealing Central and Acton MP, Rupa Huq, said:
“Local hero and pioneer of British urban music via SBTV Jamal Edwards has been taken from us age 31 He was hugely proud of his Acton roots – bringing @edsheeran along to the mural erected to him there recently. Shocking & sad news, love to his mum @brenda_edwards sister and family”
Image above: Jamal Edwards
SBTV and charitable works
In a 2013 interview with the BBC, Jamal said he filmed friends rapping or singing and began to upload the videos to YouTube to allow other friends to see them.
“You can say my videos had mixed reviews to begin with, some people didn’t get them, but others thought they were sick [good],” he said. “So I started to put them up on YouTube so everyone could see them, and it just grew from there.”
SBTV – his London-based platform for discovering emerging artists and named after Edwards’ own rapper moniker SmokeyBarz – has now grown to 1.22 million subscribers on YouTube.
It featured early music videos from dozens of British artists who were not widely known at the time, including Jessie J, Emeli Sande, Stormzy and many more.
Jamal had various charitable ventures, including JE Delve, a grassroots charity that provides youth clubs as well as learning and work opportunities for young people in west London.
He also worked with a handful of other youth charities locally, regularly making visits to speak to teenagers at both Acton High School and West London College where he had studied. He offered advice on business success and self-motivation.
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