/  02.21.2022

Jamal Edwards, a trailblazing music entrepreneur and YouTuber in the British rap and grime scenes, passed away on Sunday (Feb. 20). He was 31 years old.

The West London native died from a “sudden illness,” his mother Brenda Edwards said in a statement.

“It is with the deepest heartache that I confirm that my beautiful son Jamal Edwards passed away yesterday morning after a sudden illness. Myself, his sister Tanisha and the rest of his family and friends are completely devastated. He was the center of our world,” his mother, who hosts the British TV show “Loose Women,” said.

“As we come to terms with his passing we ask for privacy to grieve this unimaginable loss. I would like to thank everyone for their messages of love and support,” she continued. “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 and PHD.”

Edwards first gained recognition in 2006 when he launched the online music platform SmokeyBarz TV (SBTV) to showcase up-and-coming artists. The platform helped start the careers of Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Rita Ora, Skepta and more; and its YouTube channel now has 1.2 million subscribers and nearly 1 billion total views.

Speaking to BBC Radia 1Xtra in 2017, Edwards explained why he launched the platform.

“Everyone in my area was an MC and I thought, ‘Alright, if everyone is doing MCing what else can I do that’s around the music?’” he recalled. “I remember I was just sitting there and was thinking, ‘Why can’t I find these online?’ and if they were online it was just bad quality versions, so I thought, ‘Alright cool, I’m going to try and film people in my area and upload it to YouTube.’ And from there it just started building and growing.”

Edwards later turned to philanthropy and became an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity program run by the Prince of Wales that supports young entrepreneurs starting their own companies. In 2015, a then-24-year-old Edwards received the Member of the British Empire award from Prince William for his work in philanthropy and music.

On social media, artists and fans reacted to his tragic passing.

“My first ever interview was with you,” Rita Ora wrote on Instagram. “Jamal, Our endless talks on music and the belief you had in me and so many of us before we even believed in ourselves. I’m devastated. No words can describe how grateful I am to of been in your presence. Thank you for all you ever showed me. My heart goes out to [Brenda Edwards] and the whole family. RIP.”

See his mother’s statement and more tweets below. Rest in Peace.

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