Born Jerome Najee Rasheed in 1957 in New York's Greenwich Village, Najee was raised in Jamaica, Queens where he started out on the clarinet at age eight. By his teens he had switched to the saxophone, inspired by his burgeoning interest in jazz, especially artists like John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, and Grover Washington, Jr., as well as Ronnie and Hubert Laws. Along with playing in school, he was a member of Dr. Billy Taylor's Jazzmobile program, studying with Frank Foster, Jimmy Heath, and Ernie Wilkins. He also honed his flute skills at the Manhattan School of Music's Preparatory Division where he took private lessons with New York Philharmonic Orchestra flautist Harold Jones. After high school, he spent two years touring with the band Area Code, performing at military bases as part of the USO. He then joined vocalist Ben E. King's backing ensemble during the summer of 1978. Coming off the road, he briefly attended New York's Bronx Community College before enrolling as a performance and composition major at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied alongside his brother, guitarist/producer Fareed Rasheed. However, restless to perform, the brothers eventually left school and hit the road touring with singer Chaka Kahn.
As a solo artist, Najee launched his career with 1986's Najee's Theme, which hit number one on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. The effort found him embracing the sound of the soprano sax, an instrument well-suited to his distinctive blend of soulful jazz and R&B. Audiences responded and the album earned a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental R&B Performance. That same year he also joined singer Freddie Jackson on tour and returned to his solo work in 1988 with Day by Day. Najee's brother, Fareed produced his third album, 1990's Tokyo Blue. Well-received, it landed on top of the contemporary jazz charts, achieved gold status, and picked up a Soul Train Award for Best Jazz Album.
From 2001 to 2003, Najee toured with Prince, appearing on several of the pop icon's albums. In 2003, he released his eighth studio album, Embrace, which featured guest appearances by Roy Ayers and BeBe Winans. My Point of View arrived in 2005 and debuted at number one on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. The following year, the saxophonist was bestowed an NAACP Image Award for Best Jazz Artist. On 2007's Rising Sun, Najee featured singer Phil Perry, and in 2009 he issued Mind Over Matter, which included a song with singer Eric Benét.