Ten years ago grime was visible and invisible all at once. The artists who were legendary within certain pockets of the UK’s big cities weren’t accepted by mainstream media outlets and the ones who did gain the attention of big labels often seemed to be stripped of their originality and encouraged to follow the pop route (Tinchy, Chip, Skepta, Tinie Tempah). On top of that, the infamous 696 form, where promoters had to state the ethnic makeup of their crowd before they could book a venue, stifled black music events. So in 2006, when the then 15-year-old Jamal Edwards created his YouTube channel SBTV (from his rapping name SmokeyBarz) to give a platform to the label-less urban music he knew was popular, it wasn’t long before things really took off.
Today, SBTV hosts more than 10,000 videos, has accumulated millions of views, and has made Edwards a multi-millionaire and MBE recipient. SBTV hosts music and original content that spans several genres, but it’s black British rap and grime that’s enjoyed the most rapid rise to fame. In the charts today, there are more artists than ever before who have achieved international acclaim and awards that extend way beyond the inner cities – thanks in a large part, to SBTV.
Now O2 together with SBTV are looking for 40 of you to make a film about the music industry this September, under the expert guise of the SBTV crew. It’s called Go Think Big: Headliners, and there are roles in Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production and Marketing – everyone will be paid for three full days of work experience, so apply below.
Missed the applications to be part of the film? You can still get involved. This November we’re holding a panel event with SBTV’s Jamal Edwards and other industry experts – and you’re invited.
In the meantime, we’ve rounded up five of the best SBTV videos of all time so after checking them out you can get inspired to apply for Go Think Big: Headliners too.
1. The all-star lineup of ‘That’s Not Me’
Back in 2014, Skepta was enjoying a career renaissance with the release of this track which was the lead single from his 2016 masterpiece, Konnichiwa. The song pays homage to the early era of grime music and this SBTV vid features rappers D Double E, Tempa T, President T, Sox & Jaykae.
2. Mist’s realness
Birmingham rapper Mist raps honestly about growing up as an orphan and raising his daughter in this legendary warm-up session – and his first ever London video – filmed in 2015.
3. Ed Sheeran’s legendary acoustics
SBTV pretty much launched Ed’s career overnight by getting him to perform this famous acoustic version of his song ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ in their booth. Can you believe this is eight years old now, and Ed has since released 3 albums and won four Grammys? One of the best SBTV videos in terms of talent showcased and measurable impact.
4. Lady Leshur’s stand-out F64
Birmingham’s finest Melesha O’Garro, aka Lady Leshurr, doesn’t hold back when it’s her turn to shine in SBTV’s F64. Take a listen above.
5. Devlin’s 64 bars of greatness
SBTV invented the F64 format: a 64-bar rap challenge to spit your best bars and impress the audience. Devlin’s version went down in history as one of the best SBTV videos.
6. Aaron Unknown’s epic freestyle
Croydon-born rapper Aaron Unknown’s video went viral back in 2015 for all the right reasons. Aaron, who also works as a model, looks unsure of himself at first (and you can hear Jamal’s voice pushing him to hurry up and rap at the start), but once he gets going, you’re left wishing he had a few more minutes left to carry on…
7. Tori Kelly’s Frank Ocean cover
American Idol contestant Tori Kelly covered Frank Ocean’s famous track to widespread internet acclaim. It may not be in keeping with the majority of vids that SBTV have uploaded, but when was the channel ever one for keeping things boring anyway?
8. SBTV’s Headliner’s Announcement
Ok so not technically a SBTV official upload, but this one’s all about our joint opportunity with SBTV and O2, so we have to slide it in here. Plus it stars Jamal Edwards himself. Watch the video to find out how to apply!
Like this? Be sure to get involved with upcoming panel with Jamal Edwards: apply here