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Ad industry mourns Jamal Edwards after ‘devastating’ sudden death

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

February 21, 2022 | 8 min read

Media mogul Jamal Edwards, chief executive of SB.TV, has died at the age of 31 from a “sudden illness,” his family has confirmed. Edwards was an integral part of the UK rap scene and helped platform rising artists.

As chief executive of music platform SB.TV, which he founded in 2006, Edwards helped launch artists including Spotify streaming darling Ed Sheeran. He put to film many top acts such as Jessie J, Emeli Sandé, Rita Ora and Stormzy.

In 2015, he spoke at Advertising Week on the power of brand partnerships for musicians and was for many a vital advisor on that side of the business as the industry moved into streaming and said deals. He described himself as a ‘Banksy’ of the scene, keen to operate outside the limelight.

Jamal

SB.TV founder Jamal Edwards has died at the age of 31

Luton-born Edwards posted his first video of his friends rapping in the noughties at the age of 15 under the name ‘SmokeyBarz,’ and since rose to stardom and entrepreneurialism.

We reflect on Edwards’ life from the ads he starred in and directed, as well as the tracks he brought into the mainstream.

A Google Chrome ad from BBH showed his rise at just the age of 20, which included owning a media company and record label Just Jam Records. It received more than 750,000 views in just six days.

Edwards also directed Chelsea FC’s remix video of grime artist Capo Lee’s Style and Swag. Featured on the track were footballers N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham. He helped to inspire football’s big push into grime in the UK.

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More directly, he also directed numerous ads. Most notable was ‘the world’s first plant-based grime track’ for Subway with help from ad agency Above+Beyond. The soundtrack was created by extracting sound emissions from the plants used in Subway’s plant-based menu using so-called PlantWave technology.

Another ad was for clothes marketplace Depop.

Edwards was also an ambassador for youth charity The Prince’s Trust and earned an MBE for services to music in 2014.

His mother Brenda Edwards, a host on Loose Women, shared a tribute to her son.

Also surfacing today was one of Edwards’s quotes on the Transport for London (TfL) message board for commuters.

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