The music community is mourning the death of singer and producer Kashif Saleem, better known as Kashif, who passed away at the age of 56. The exact cause of death is not known as of yet, but this is a truly devastating lost in the R&B/soul community.
Kashif was more than just a singer-songwriter, he was one of the original super-producers. A true one-man band, Kashif was proficient in several different instruments including piano, drums and even the flute. He crafted some of the biggest R&B hits as both a solo artist and producer in the 1980s with his innovative usage of synthesizers, sampling, drum placements and vocal dialog.
During the mid-80s, the Brooklyn, N.Y. native was an in-demand producer blessing R&B singer Evelyn “Champagne” King with two of her biggest singles, “I’m in Love” and “Love Come Down.” He would later give a young Whitney Houston her first R&B hit with “You Give Good Love”
But Kashif wasn’t afraid to step outside of the box. The late musician delivered his production magic in the jazz world as well. He made Kenny G listenable with “Love on the Rise” and made Al Jarreau get funky on their Grammy-nominated track, “Edgartown Groove.”
In remembrance of the late musician, The Boombox has crafted the 10 Best Kashif-produced Songs. Although he may be gone, Kashif’s musical legacy is forever enshrined in the history of R&B and soul music. May he rest in peace.
Kashif will be most likely be remembered for his work in the R&B/soul genre, but the late musician wasn’t afraid to step outside of his musical pedigree. The multi-instrumentalist teamed up with iconic vocalist Al Jarreau for this funk-jazz track, “Edgartown Groove.” The song garnered them a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1985.
“Love on the Rise”
Kenny G is often made fun of for his sappy smooth jazz music, but Kashif made him listenable for his song, “Love on the Rise.” While Kenny delivered his soft saxophone riffs, Kashif provided the soulful vocals that would make this a soothing ballad for easy listening.
“Lover Turn Me On (I Just Got to Have You)”
In 1983, Kashif step behind the production boards to pursue a solo career. He did well for himself, crafting a slew of R&B hits. This is one of them. The funky bass lines, vocal overlays and use of synthesizers became his signature sound, and was copied by other producers. Overall, it’s a danceable hit that still delivers joyous replays.
“Reservations for Two”
How ironic that after giving Whitney Houston her first big hit in 1985 (“You Give Good Love”), he would later give her cousin Dionne Warwick her International hit single, “Reservations for Two” in 1987. The lovely song is one of many duets that made Kashif such an in-demand singer-producer in the 1980s.
This melodic ballad is actually a cover of the 1978 song of the same name by Mother’s Finest. Meli’sa Morgan covered the song on her album Good Love before Kashif used it for his album, Love Changes. The ballad reached its peak at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B/Soul charts in 1987.
“Inside Love (So Personal)”
Another oldie but goodie, George Benson’s “Inside Love (So Personal)” is another flavorful R&B jam tailor-made for the dance floor. Not quite “Give Me the Night,” but it still has plenty of bounce that will make you snap your fingers or tap your feet.
“Love Come Down”
Kashif wrote, co-produced and played all of the instruments (except guitar) on Evelyn “Champagne” King’s bubbly “Love Come Down.” The single reigned at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard R&B chart five consecutive weeks. This was Kashif’s second hit with the R&B singer. Their first hit appears later on this list.
“You Give Good Love”
According to R&B folklore, Kashif wasn’t initially impressed with the young Whitney Houston’s singing abilities when Clive Davis offer an opportunity to work with her. But after listening to her rough demo of “You Give Good Love,” Kashif changed his tune. The producer give Houston her first big R&B hit, which also became a crossover smash on the pop charts as well.
While Kashif may be remembered for his work with several prominent R&B female singers, he blessed a couple of male acts as well. Howard Johnson is one of them. Kashif’s signature synthesizer sound and dialog vocals are on full display here. “So Fine” is an anthemic love jam for the ladies.
“I’m in Love”
Finally, we arrived at what is arguably Kashif’s most known song that he produced. Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “I’m in Love” was one of the biggest R&B songs in the summer of 1981. This jam along with Howard Johnson’s “So Fine” helped R&B segue out of the disco era. Still soulful and funky, it’s arguably one of the best songs Kashif has ever produced in his distinguished career.