Somewhere over the course of the hour and twenty minutes that me and my friend Jimmy blabbed (don’t worry, we taped the results and called it Blerd Radio Episode 8…posting soon) on Sunday night, the name “Kashif” came up, and I immediately resolved to do a piece on one of the most popular (and influential) producers of the early Eighties.

Although he recorded five albums for Arista Records over the course of a decade (and scored a handful of R&B chart hits), he should definitely be recognized as the guy who brought the age of the synthesizer to soul music for the first time. Of course, by the early part of the decade, Prince and Stevie Wonder were also embracing the digital age, but it was the Kashif-written “I’m in Love” (performed by Evelyn “Champagne” King) which became the first completely-synthesized song to hit the top of Billboard’s R&B chart back in the summer of 1981.

(I love the first comment on the video, which says “No computers. Real musicians performing”. I’m certainly not suggesting that Kashif is not a real musician, but in light of “I’m in Love” being a completely synthesized work, that comment just strikes me as funny).

Over the next five years or so, Kashif (who was born Michael Jones) scored a slew of R&B hits, including songs by Melba Moore, George Benson, Kenny G. (see yesterday’s 5ive at 5 post) and Howard Johnson (go look up his “So Fine” on YouTube. That song smokes). His solo hits include “I Just Gotta Have You (Lover Turn Me On)”, “Help Yourself to My Love” and “Love Changes”, a duet with Meli’sa Morgan that peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Black Singles chart at the end of 1987.

Oh, he also produced “You Give Good Love”, the song that introduced the world to a young lady by the name of Whitney Houston.

After the hits stopped, Kashif found even more success on the lecture circuit, eventually writing a book called “Everything You’d Better Know About the Record Industry” and publishing it himself. The enterprising musician is still making records to this day, and although he isn’t as well-remembered as some of his contemporaries, he definitely deserves props for being one of the R&B world’s most innovative artist/producers of his time.

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