British entrepreneur and YouTube star Jamal Edwards has died at the age of 31, his company has told the BBC.
He was the founder of SBTV, an online urban music platform which helped launch the careers of artists like Dave, Ed Sheeran and Jessie J.
Chart-topper AJ Tracey was one of the first to pay tribute online, tweeting “RIP Jamal Edwards, west London legend status”.
Edwards, born in Luton, was appointed an MBE for services to music in 2014.
He also became an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity run by the Prince of Wales which helps young people set up their own companies.
He attended the Brit Awards earlier this month and was understood to have performed as a DJ at a gig in north London on Saturday night.
Tributes to Edwards, a pioneering figure in British rap and grime music, have been paid by many performers in the two genres.
Rpper Lady Leshurr tweeted the news of his death was “heartbreaking” and praised him for helping her career.
“He gave me opportunity after opportunity to showcase my talent from Brum into London. We need to keep his name and brand alive,” she wrote.
In a tweet, the organisers of Mobo Awards said they were “deeply saddened” to learn of Edwards’ death.
It added: “As the founder of @SBTVonline, his groundbreaking work & legacy in British music and culture will live on. Our hearts and thoughts are with his friends and family.”
Edwards, who was the son of singer and Loose Women presenter Brenda Edwards, first got into film-making after his parents gave him a video camera as a Christmas present when he was 15.
In a 2013 interview with the BBC, he said he filmed friends rapping or singing and began to upload the videos to YouTube to allow other friends to see them.
“You can say my videos had mixed reviews to begin with, some people didn’t get them, but others thought they were sick [good],” he said. “So I started to put them up on YouTube so everyone could see them, and it just grew from there.”