Multi-talented singer/songwriter/producer/musician Kashif Saleem wasn’t inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame as a “Living Legend” in 2004 for nothing. Since his professional start as a teen in the ’70s disco/funk band B.T. Express, the Harlem, New York native (born Michael Jones before he changed his name after studying Islam) was best known for his production talents, bringing the synthesizer to R&B and was even heralded a “master of music.”
Kashif, whose name means discoverer or inventor, worked with many A-listers including a young Whitney Houston to veteran singer Dionne Warwick. After his untimely death on Sunday from undetermined causes at the age of 59, Billboard dug through the crates to uncover several gems the R&B titan helped create beyond his own catalog below.
Evelyn “Champagne” King, “I’m in Love” (1981)
Evelyn “Champagne” King secured her first chart-topper with “I’m in Love,” produced by Kashif, her collaborator for subsequent singles like the second No. 1 “Love Come Down” and the No. 2 “Betcha She Don’t Love You.” Esteemed songwriter/producer Jimmy Jam, who paid his respects to the “influential” Kashif in a tweet, also sampled “I’m in Love” on Janet Jackson’s “R&B Junkie.”
Howard Johnson, “So Fine”
Whitney Houston, “You Give Good Love” and “Thinking About You”
Before Nippy rocked the world with power ballads like “I Will Always Love You,” then-Arista president Clive Davis recruited Kashif to work with the new singer. Together, they created “You Give Good Love” and “Thinking About You” off her 1985 self-titled album.
George Benson, “Inside Love (So Personal)”
“Give Me the Night” hitmaker George Benson tapped Kashif to produce and write the 1983 love note “Inside Love (So Personal).”