Music Critic Bas Bevan celebrates the life of Jamal Edwards, highlighting his immense impact on the music industry
On 20th February 2022 music entrepreneur Jamal Edwards sadly passed away at the age of just 31. He made an impact on the British music industry that is as great as anyone today’s, but his staggering achievements did not always get the public recognition that they deserved with Edwards preferring not to be in the spotlight. At the top of the list of the many awards and honours Edwards received in his lifetime was an MBE he received from the Queen in 2015 for services to music.
While at school in West London, Edwards started his YouTube channel SBTV where he uploaded videos of UK grime MCs and other artists. Edwards worked at Topman to support himself while he developed his channel which today has over 1.2 million subscribers. SBTV is credited with helping to catapult UK grime and rap music to the incredible popularity it has had over the last decade and helped to discover some of the scene’s biggest stars including Stormzy, Dave, Skepta, AJ Tracey, and Krept & Konan. Its influence was not just restricted to rap music as SBTV also helped to launch the careers of Rita Ora, Jessie J and even Ed Sheeran whose performance of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ on the channel in 2010 was a pivotal moment in his journey to becoming arguably the biggest artist in the world. Their partnership continued right up to today and it was Edwards who encouraged Sheeran to appear on the remix of Fireboy DML’s song ‘Peru’ which has gone on to reach number two in the UK. Edwards also conducted the first UK interviews with both Drake and Nicki Minaj.
Edwards’ career reached beyond music with him also finding success in multiple other industries. He was part of several fashion collaborations including one with Topman and released a successful book in 2013 titled Self Belief: The Vision: How To Be a Success on Your Own Terms. In recent years, he also moved into directing and began DJing.
As well as his multiple business ventures, Jamal Edwards conducted generous philanthropic work and participated in many worthy causes. Most notably, he was an ambassador for the youth charity The Prince’s Trust, and was an advocate for mental health and male suicide awareness. He was also part of a scheme with the Department of Education and rapper P Money to encourage more young people to do apprenticeships, as well as many other charitable endeavours.
Tributes have flooded in for Edwards ranging from many of the artists he gave a platform to, from Prince Charles to Simon Cowell, and players from his favourite football club Chelsea. Ed Sheeran wrote ‘His light shone so bright. He only used it to illuminate others and never asked for anything in return.’ He also said that he ‘would not be here without him, professionally and personally.’ David Cameron also praised him for ‘supporting and inspiring young people to be the best they could be.’
Edwards’ career was filled with amazing achievements within the music industry, but also across many other fields and the extent of his success is maybe only now being fully appreciated. It is clear that he deeply impacted everyone he met and worked alongside with his drive and generosity, and the mark he made on British culture as well as those who knew him will live on forever.
You Might Also Like: