Singer-songwriter-producer Kashif died Sept. 25 at 59. He had only recently resumed performing after a long absence from the concert scene—and was working hard on a documentary series about the history of R&B.
But outside of his self-published 1996 book Everything You’d Better Know About the Record Industry, little had been heard from the multi-talented R&B artist, who was such a major force in the 1980s.
“He was turning everyone’s head around about the electronics of R&B,” says music researcher/historian and former Billboard columnist Brian Chin. “That was when his song ‘I’m in Love’ by Evelyn King was sold out in every record store, and I was hearing it several times in one afternoon–on every radio station I was monitoring.”
That was 1981, when Evelyn “Champagne” King’s recording of Kashif’s “I’m in Love” topped both soul and dance charts in Billboard—and reached No. 40 on its Hot 100. Also in the ‘80s, he recorded his own albums—as Chin notes, heavily employing electronics and synthesizers—while working with the likes of Melba Moore, George Benson, Meli’sa Morgan and Kenny G. He produced Whitney Houston’s first big hit “You Give Good Love” for her self-titled 1985 debut album and duetted with her on its “Thinking About You,” which he also co-wrote.
He scored, too, in the New Jack Swing era of the late ‘80s, with his own hit “Personality.”
“Kashif was so impeccably qualified top-to-bottom that his how-to book inevitably was titled Everything You’d Better Know About the Record Industry,” says Chin. “He remained accessible for three decades of hit-making, and that’s why I know I’m always going to feel his loss personally.”