LONDON – Jamal Edwards, founder of the music YouTube channel that created the original foundation for British rap stars, including Stormzy, Skepta and Dave, as well as pop stars like Ed Sheeran, passed away on Sunday. He is 31 years old.
His death from “sudden illness” was confirmed by his mother, Brenda Edwards, a popular TV presenter in the UK. “Jamal is an inspiration to me and so many people,” she said in a statement.
Edwards set up a YouTube channel SB.TV in 2006, for the first time posted clips of rappers performing on street corners and in public housing projects. A few years later, he expanded the channel’s focus to include interviews and music in other styles, including pop music by emerging artists. Edwards posted a Ed Sheeran’s video in 2010, over a year before the British singer-songwriter released her first single on a major label.
Sheeran has gone on to make several videos for the channel. In a clip from 2017he credited SB.TV with “starting my career right.”
Edwards grew up in Acton, a suburb of London. When he was 15 years old, his mother gave him a video camera for Christmas, which he used to record friends rapping. Edwards told BBC in 2014 that he started a YouTube channel after friends expressed frustration that they didn’t know how to get his music on MTV. “I said, ‘I have a camera for Christmas, I’m going to start filming people and uploading it,’” he said.
His first clip – a raw and ready recording – featuring rappers Soul and Slides – was taken during a college trip to a chocolate factory and uploaded to Edwards YouTube channel called SB.TV after a name he sometimes reads rap: Smokey Barz.
At first, friends were skeptical about the project, Edwards told the BBC. But soon, SB.TV caught the attention of young British rap fans, who had few other backgrounds to satisfy their tastes.
The channel had amassed 1.2 million subscribers by the time of Edwards’ death and was considered a key force in British rap for several years, even as other YouTube channels such as Daily GRM gained more subscribers and a higher profile.
On Monday, many British music stars praised Edwards. Singer Rita Ora, videographer for SB.TV new job, pay tribute in an Instagram post with the faith Edwards expressed “in me and in so many of us before we believed in ourselves.”
Dave, one of Britain’s most famous rappers, shared a photo of Edwards on Twitterwith the message, “Thank you for everything.”
Although there are implicit roots in Edwards’ popularity, he was long recognized by the founding of Great Britain. In 2014, he went to Buckingham Palace, the residence of the British royal family, to receive one of the country’s highest honors for his dedication to music. Edwards also founded a charity, JE Delve, which works with young people in the suburbs where Edwards grew up.
“Most of the kids from where I come from will never believe they can make it to Buckingham Palace in a million years,” Edwards told The Guardian in 2017. “Being able to see me do it gives them more confidence in themselves.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/arts/music/jamal-edwards-dead.html Jamal Edwards, Force in British Rap, dies aged 31