Exclusive Interview: Jamal Edwards – “I’m aiming to create more memorable moments”
Jamal Edwards talks about setting up youth centres in his local community of Acton
Jamal Edwards and SBTV are fundamental pillars of our urban culture, with his platform helping to give us a crispy visual of the grime and rap stars we grew up on.
His rise and reign in music was meteoric, but for the past few years, Jamal has been focusing a lot more on community projects, starting multiple Jamal Edwards Delve (JED) centres in his local community of Acton.
This has done wonders for the youth in the area, but has also once again fanned his creative flame. So along with the youth centres, Jamal will be getting back into producing content for SBTV next year. To find out what’s he been up to recently and what he’s got planned, tuck into the interview below!
What was the initial inspiration to do the Acton community youth project?
When you’re in the industry, you get lost sometimes and when I was fully in it, I didn’t really get to see my friends from my area that much. So a couple years back I went back to my old estate and I saw one of the olders from my childhood and he was like, “no one is doing anything with the community centre, what’s happening with it?” and I thought, you know what, I’ve been very fortunate where I’ve been put in position where I can open it back up. So I got in touch with the housing association; I got in touch with people in government; different brands and when people say that I’ve got an MBE, that’s the first time I saw the powers of it. I was only aiming to open up one at first, but then I ended up opening up four all around Acton. I opened up one on my estate, where I actually did my first film work when I was like 14. Then I opened up one on another estate in Acton as well which is mainly focused on sports. Then there’s another youth project which is more focused on media and music.
What would you say is your overall vision for the Jamal Edwards Delve (JED) centres?
Off the back of this, I was in Birmingham the other day and there were people in Walsall who were saying we’d like some of these centres up here. So at the moment, the team and I are coming up with a blueprint, where we can go into other areas and set up more JED centres. There’s people out there who are already doing it and I just wanted to add my contacts to the fold in order to get brands involved and bridge the gap between the youth and successful people in the various fields we’ll be doing workshops in.
Would you say attending a youth centre influenced yo to start SBTV?
Yeah 100% man. When I was like 14/15 I went on a film workshop at my old community centre and I learned the basics about film, which did inspire me and also made me think, “why haven’t the youth now got the same access”? I was talking to some inmates at Brixton prison yesterday and one of the biggest issues we spoke on was access to opportunity, this is a big problem for the disenfranchised in the community and needs to be solved.
In terms of SBTV what are your thoughts on your current position in the scene in comparison to other platforms?
It’s so sick man; I love it. Couple weeks ago I was at White City with Dave after he won his Mercury award and it was great. Now artists are getting top 10s, top 20s and it wasn’t like that for our scene when we first started out. You’re getting D Block Europe and AJ Tracey selling out Ally Pally on a normal flex. It’s amazing to see and that’s why I’m even more excited to start doing the music content again next year for SBTV. But I need to focus on community endeavours more, because before I didn’t have time do that stuff, but now that I’ve taken a break from the music stuff, I’ve been able to get a lot more youth work done. But yeah I’m excited about the scene and where everything is going.
When you do come back with SBTV next year, do you have any plans for different avenues you’re trying to go down?
Obviously we’ll still be doing the music and I’ve got some stuff planned, but I’d rather do it first, because I don’t want to jinx it before it happens. But I do want to bring back the F64s and work more closely with the musicians, connecting them with the community youth centres that I’m currently working with.
What achievements would make 2019 a good year for you?
Personally, I signed a deal with Mercedes Benz vans, so I’ve been doing that. I was on a Primark campaign recently and I’ve got a Kirt Geiger campaign coming up next week. This has all been great, but I defiantly want to get back to creating content again.
I think personally for me the ‘Boy Better Know | 100M YouTube views’ freestyle is my favourite SBTV video.
Everyone always brings that one up. I’m aiming to create more moments like that when I get back into this thing fully.
Interview by Denzil Bell
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