Usher, once a dominant pop star, has now become a human avatar of late-’90s and early-’00s nostalgia. This has been a good look for him. This fall, Usher, playing himself, made a cameo during one of the most electric moments of the great crime flick Hustlers. He also duetted with exploding young R&B shit-talker Summer Walker on her big song “Come Thru,” which samples Usher’s own 1997 smash “You Make Me Wanna…” Today, Usher comes out with a new single that steers into that same longing for days gone by.
On the new “Don’t Waste My Time,” Usher teams up with the young London singer Ella Mai. His voice is still firm and liquid, and he and Ella Mai sing about a flirty night in the club over a warm, choppy beat that sounds like ’90s R&B producers doing their best at emulating ’80s Prince and Michael Jackson. There’s a glowing, organic Fender Rhodes, and there’s also a hard, skeletal drum-machine beat. The contrast works.
Usher’s old buddy Jermaine Dupri co-produced “Don’t Waste My Time” with Bryan Michael Cox, another old collaborator who did a whole lot of work on Usher’s Confessions album. Usher and Ella Mai co-wrote the song with Dupri, Cox, and the rising singer VEDO. “Don’t Waste My Time” may or may not be an early taste of a new Usher album. Check it out below.
“Don’t Waste My Time” is up on on the streaming services.