“Housequake” isn’t so much a song as it is a groove. And what a groove it is. Prince’s appreciation for the music of James Brown was never a secret (and it certainly isn’t now, as revelations of hours-long rehearsals with The Revolution where they just grooved on JB’s “Bodyheat” have come to light), and “Housequake” is his most overt tribute. As much noise was made at the time about Prince falling out of touch with Black youth culture as hip-hop rose to the fore, it’s also worth mentioning that both genres (yes, y’all, Prince is a whole genre) were drawing inspiration from JB simultaneously.
More than a JB tribute, “Housequake” spotlights Prince at his most playful. The song uses his sped-up “Camille” voice and presents itself as a party. Prince is the one man band and all you need to do is “shut up, already” if you can’t vibe with the sound he’s throwing down. Damn!