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Jamal Edwards — who helped launch the careers of Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Stormzy, Lady Leshurr, and Rita Ora — has died. He was 31. The British rapper and music producer started YouTube channel SBTV “on a £20 phone” while still in school, according to The Guardian. SBTV has generated over a billion views in that time. Ed Sheeran was a big hit on the channel before he’d even signed a record deal. “We’re good friends, but we were also good for each other’s careers,” Edwards said in 2017. “Viewers loved him, they didn’t care where he was from. They could just see he had talent.” Edwards helped promote grime to an international audience, and was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his efforts. SBTV became known for the F64: 64 fresh, completely new bars of lyrics that rappers were expected to produce on the channel.
News of Edwards’s death was confirmed by the BBC Sunday morning. No cause of death has been released. He had attended the BRIT Awards earlier this month and had reportedly DJ-ed a set in north London Saturday night. His loss was mourned by artists that he blew up like Lady Leshurr and by mayor of London Sadiq Khan. “British music and entertainment has lost one of its brightest stars,” he wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts are with Jamal’s loved ones at this terribly sad time.”
Update February 23: Ed Sheeran mourned the loss of the man he called his “brother” on Instagram. “I would not be here without him, professionally and personally. There will never be anything close to what he is, but I’m so grateful to have existed within his orbit,” he wrote.
U.K. Music Pioneer Jamal Edwards Dead at 31