INTERVIEW: JAMAL EDWARDS

Confidence is key in business and that along with an ear for talent has landed Jamal Edwards, CEO of SBTV, as one of the most prominent young entrepeneurs in Britain today. What started off as an online music channel showcasing young rappers and grime artists has become a go-to for up and coming stars.

 

What has SBTV brought to the music game that was missing?

I can say what I brought and that was a platform for musicians and relatively unknown ones. I also provide daily content, so there are always new things on the channel everyday. I’m not sure if it was missing before but that is what I brought to the game.

 

One of the great things about SBTV is that you have given Urban Youth a voice and a platform. Do you think hip-hop and grime artists are heard enough or is there still more to be done?  

I still think there is more to be done, but over the past few years people have got into the habit of making their own channels on YouTube which has helped a lot. For example twitter came in and that helped a lot, and if another thing comes in, a new social platform it will help it again. I think at the moment it is the healthiest it has ever been because you can go out there and do your own thing, get your own YouTube channel, get a camera and build a profile. It’s a great thing that has helped out so many musicians.

 

Which grime and hip-hop artists do you think most represent the feelings of the British Youth?

For grime I would say JME, because he is so in touch with social media and young people. When I look at things I class it as UK music in general so I would say JME overall as a UK artist in touch with twitter, facebook, Youtube and all his young fans.

 

You have been credited with kick starting Ed Sheeran’s career. What did you see in Ed Sheeran back then that was missing from the rest of the music scene?

What stood out for me with Ed Sheeran when he performed on SBTV was that he fused everything together. He wasn’t just a singer, he also spat a couple lyrics, he made part of the track with his mouth, and he made the track literally on the spot with a loop pedal which was a woahhh moment. He stood out to me and it stood out for everyone else as it’s the most viewed video on SBTV.

Who are the ones to watch for 2012?

One definite to watch is Maxsta who I have signed to my label. 100 percent look out for him.

 

People say that fame often changes people but they rarely mention how fame affects the people around them. Have you noticed a change in others now that you are successful?

There is a saying: When people say you have changed that means you have only stopped acting the way you want them too and I always say that. I don’t really have a huge circle, I have a really close, tight circle so I don’t really let people in too much.

People always tend to receive some sort of backlash when they move from being an underground entity to a mainstream success. Do you think the mainstream is not representing enough people or is it just bitterness on the part of those that don’t make it?

I personally thing it is just peoples opinions and that’s it. I try to do both and do 50% underground and 50% mainstream just to keep both audiences happy. But it is solely down to the audience. They may not like Justin Bieber but they might like Skepta, and another will like Skepta and not Justin Bieber, so you have to do both.

Due to the success of SBTV do you ever think the business side of things hinders the creative process. I.e.: is there now an added pressure to represent a certain kind of artist/appeal to a more mainstream audience?

Another thing that I say is that you can’t please everyone. I just stay in my lane and do what I want. If people like it they like it, if they don’t that’s cool. I’m putting out on SBTV what I want to watch. I never get too touchy….I used to always get so touchy like “ohhh, why don’t they like my video” but I just have to carry on doing my thing man.

You are CEO of your own record label Just Jam Records: what about your record label breaking away from all the other labels out there?

What it will be is that I am a rebel at heart. I will do what I think is best and not listen to anyone else within reason. I will follow myself and not do it the traditional record label way. I will do it my way. And that has shaken up the game a little bit. I take risks and make it a bit different from every other label.

I’ve seen in an interview that you aim to conquer New York. Is that still on the cards and how do you plan to go about it? What do you hope to achieve?

I hope to build up the same thing I’ve done over here. I want to build a SBTV over in America, find the Jamal Edwards of America, work with him and built it up. That is the next step. I think it will be harder but I’m up for a challenge.

 

You are 21 and have achieved so much. Do you ever feel pressurized in moving forwards from such a high position already or does it spur on your ambition further?

It makes me just want it more. I want it too much kind of thing. It inspires me to keep going and never stop.

Did you upbringing influence your motivation to get involved in grass roots social projects?

Coming from where I grew up. I’ve seen a lot of stuff and I just come at it from the mentality of never forgetting my roots. I always try and keep up with everyone and do as much as possible for the people who were there at the beginning.

Do you think as a British Youth we are less politically aware that the youth in other countries? 

I don’t know I would have to ask them. I don’t want to answer on their behalf. Personally, I don’t know much about other people, but yeah I think they are. I think the youth need to be educated in a way that is more engaging.

What other entrepreneurs do you admire and why? 

Richard Branson. I definitely admire him, he’s an inspiration to me. Building all these different companies up to a certain level like virgin records, virgin atlantic, virgin banks. It’s nuts.

What was the last book you read?

The Alan Sugar biography. It was wicked. He’s another entrepeneur I really like. It’s inspiring how he built up something from nothing. I love that kind of mentality that he has.

 

What record/artist from your childhood do you still listen to today? Is there a lyric from a record that still resonates with you today?

Oh my God. I don’t know. If I had my laptop I could look through Spotify. My music has dynamically changed…..Spice Girls?! It would have to be 50 Cent. And my lyric is “Get Rich or Die Tryin”

Interview by Emily Ames

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