What Jamal Edwards achieved in just 31 years
British entrepreneur Jamal Edwards has died at the age of 31, his manager has confirmed. Edwards gained fame from setting up new music platform SBTV – helping to launch a string of UK music careers including Dave and Jessie J. He was an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a charity headed by the Prince of Wales, and in 2014 he was awarded an MBE for his services to music.
Born in 1990, Jamal Edwards MBE was a British entrepreneur, author, director, DJ and founder of the online urban music platform SB.TV. He was born in Luton, and spent his early years there before moving to Acton, West London, where he lived with his mother Brenda Edwards, his stepfather, Patrick, and his younger sister, Tanisha.
Edwards’ family originate from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, reports Wikipedia. Edwards was an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity which helps young people set up their own businesses.
In 2021, Edwards set up Jamal Edwards Delve, a project aimed at refurbishing and reopening youth centres. During his school years, Edwards started rapping and would film videos with his friends that would then be posted on YouTube – the beginning of SBTV.
Edwards was the founder of SBTV – an online media platform to discover emerging artists. It launched in 2006 and has helped to launch the careers of many artists including Ed Sheeran.
By 2019, the SBTV YouTube channel had more than one million subscribers. When Edwards was 15, he was given a video camera, filmed friends rapping and performing and uploaded them to his YouTube channel. Then, he created the channel SBTV for his videos.
His rap name at the time was “SmokeyBarz”, hence the acronym SB in the channel’s title. Edwards filmed some artists before they became well-known such as Jessie J’s first acoustic video. He also filmed others such as Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, Dave, Emeli Sande, Rita Ora, Krept & Konan, Yungen, Mic Righteous, Nines, Tori Kelly, Bugzy Malone, Mist, English Frank, Aaron Unknown and Cadet.
In 2011, SBTV was featured in a Google Chrome advert. The ad caused the SBTV site to crash due to the traffic and it became the second-most popular UK YouTube video of the year. Over the years Edwards constructed collaborations with some of the world’s biggest stars, conducting the first online UK-based interviews with Drake, Nicki Minaj and Wiz Khalifa.
As well as his online platform, Edwards released a headwear collection with American Freshman.
The collection featured limited editions of snapbacks and bucket hats that were designed by Edwards himself. As part of the GQ Heroes series in 2019, Edwards hosted an open forum discussion with Adwoa Aboah on mental health. Edwards walked in the Hermes:Step into the Frame catwalk show at London’s Nine Elms.
In 2019, Kurt Geiger revealed Edwards as one of the faces of its “Characterful Style” campaign for AW19. Later that year, Edwards was also announced as one of the faces of the Primark AW19 collection, celebrating 50 years of the brand.
In 2013, Edwards released an ebook, Self Belief: The Vision: How To Be a Success on Your Own Terms. His was the number 1 bestselling ebook series according to iBooks.
In 2019, Edwards directed the Chelsea FC remix video of grime artist Capo Lee’s “Style and Swag”.
The video featured players including Callum Hudson Odoi, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Ngolo Kante, Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi. In November 2021, Edwards launched the 8BARS app: a ground-breaking platform supporting up and coming music stars. The app received investments from the likes of British rapper Nines, as well as early Spotify investors.
It also launched with an exclusive pilot partnership with SoundCloud. In 2021, Edwards created the pseudonym Jamal Artman to launch his DJ career, paying homage to his birth name. Under this pseudonym, Edwards launched the house and dance music event night “Cultivation”.
Jamal Edwards Delve (JED)
Securing funding from Google and the Wellcome Trust, in 2019 Edwards founded Jamal Edwards Delve (JED) a grassroots youth-centre project.
As of October 2019, Edwards has refurbished and reopened four youth-centres in Acton As of December 2020, more than 150 people have engaged across the four centres.
In 2021, Edwards was signed to RadicalMedia as a director. He later produced commercial content in partnership with the likes of Subway and Depop. Edwards also teamed up with singer-songwriter Jake Bugg in 2021.
Edwards directed a brand-new series to showcase the unseen side of Bugg’s story, including his early years in Nottingham and inspiration behind his music style and lyrics. In December 2021, Edwards directed Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits” Remix, featuring Tion Wayne and Central Cee. Shortly after, Edwards then went on to direct Fireboy’s “Peru” Remix with Ed Sheeran.
Entrepreneurial, philanthropic and mentor work
In 2014, Edwards helped launch the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme with an image of Edwards, Prince William and Prince Harry captured by a Twitter mirror.
Edwards also worked to raise awareness surrounding mental health. In March 2017, he made a documentary with The Guardian about male suicide, in which he spoke to his childhood friends who suffer with mental health. Later that year, Edwards continued his work and explored mental health in the music industry.
Edwards was open about his own struggles, stating in an interview with Music Week: “Anxiety comes over me at the most random times. I wanted to create awareness. As much as music is my entry point, I feel a responsibility to talk about these other issues.
I wanted to get people talking to each other and they have been, I’m happy.” As well as his documentary work, Edwards collaborated with the mental health charity CALM, and wrote a column that discussed the issue for the online site The Book of Man.
In 2018, Edwards was announced as the first ambassador for Mercedes-Benz X-Class, through his ambassadorship Edwards launched his own YouTube series JE:SELF-BELIEF and JE:WHAT’S YOUR DRIVE. Edwards was keen to inspire other creatives and entrepreneurs through his vlogs, exploring the challenges and dreams of a true entrepreneur of the digital native era.
The vlogs presented an unparalleled insight into Edwards’s busy life, featuring artists, broadcasters, filmmakers, social influencers and more as he travelled around London and the UK showing off his pick-up truck. In 2020, Edwards announced a partnership with the Department for Education, a three-part campaign encouraging young creatives to consider undertaking an apprenticeship. The partnership involved the grime MC P Money.
In 2021, Jamal joined his mother, Brenda Edwards, on ITV’s show Loose Women, where he shared “How He Built a Multi-million Pound Business & How His Mum Brenda Inspired Him”. Edwards was also named as an ambassador for Google Pixel.
Honours and awards
- Edwards was awarded an MBE in the 2015 New Year Honours for his work in music and his business, SBTV.
- Edwards featured in the ES Power 1000 – London’s most influential people 2013: Deal makers, Tycoons.
- In 2014, Edwards was listed as number 2 in The Guardian’s ‘The top 30 young people in digital media’.
- On 12 September 2014, TIME magazine named Edwards as one of their “Next Generation Leaders”
- In 2015, Edwards was awarded the Best New StartUp from Virgin Media and Virgin StartUp.
- Also in 2015, Edwards was named in Debrett’s list of the 500 most influential people in Britain in the New Media section alongside YouTube vloggers Zoella and Alfie Deyes.
- In May 2016 the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) inducted Edwards into its Hall of Fame. Edwards was recognised for his contributions to the online music industry for creating the SB.TV music platform.
- Also in 2016, Edwards was named in GQ magazine’s 100 Most Connected Men of All Time.
- Edwards was named as one of the Maserati 100 in 2016, a partnership with The Sunday Times to recognise one hundred game-changing entrepreneurs who are innovators in the business world.
- Edwards was chosen to be the ambassador for the youth charity, The Prince’s Trust in 2013.
The charity is run by Prince Charles to help young people to set up their own businesses.
- Edwards has received an honorary MBA from Luton & Bedfordshire University.
- Edwards was appointed Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Sussex in September 2021
- Edwards received honorary degree for his success, from the University of West London in November 2021.