Looking for the Perfect Beat

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"Looking For the Perfect Beat"
Single by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force
ReleasedDecember 1982 (1982-12)
LabelTommy Boy
Composer(s)Arthur Baker, John Robie, Afrika Bambaataa Aasim,[3] SoulSonic Force[2]
Lyricist(s)Arthur Baker, MC G.L.O.B.E.
Producer(s)Arthur Baker, John Robie
Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force singles chronology
"Planet Rock"
"Looking For the Perfect Beat"
"Renegades of Funk"
Audio sample

"Looking for the Perfect Beat" is a song by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force. The song was produced by Arthur Baker and John Robie and was the follow-up track for the group following "Planet Rock". The track took much longer to develop than "Planet Rock" with Baker using cocaine and the pressure involved with creating a follow-up single. The group was developed for months in Robie's apartment while Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force were touring.

The track was released in December 1982 and was later ranked at number 13 among the "Tracks of the Year" for 1983 by the NME.


Producer Arthur Baker recalled that Tommy Boy Records head Tom Silverman decided that "Planet Rock" was successful enough that the group should have a follow-up.[4] Following this period, Baker released leftover music from the "Planet Rock" sessions titled "Play At Your Own Risk" after adding vocals and some more music to it.[5] While the Soulsonic Force was touring, Baker worked on a new track at Robie's apartment home and were trying to develop a new track.[4][5] Baker felt that the group needed a different approach than "Planet Rock" as "everyone was sort of biting off what we had done. I thought there’s no way we can do the same thing, we have to do something different." and "we couldn't go even close to anything with that kind of tempo or beat."[4] The pressure of creating a follow-up led to Baker "rediscover[ing] drugs" and was "doing lots of cocaine – it didn’t really help."[4]

Baker recalled that the song's title arrived to him when developing the track, thinking "Man, we're looking for the perfect beat and we've already found it.' It quickly dawned on me that this was a good song title".[5] Soulsonic Force member MC G.L.O.B.E. was tasked with writing the lyrics.[5] Baker performed some vocals on the track that the rappers did not want to perform, including the lines “Beat This” and the “Looking for the per- looking for the per- looking for the perfect.” and some barking on the track which the rappers did not want to perform.[4][5] In 1999, Baker declared that the "Beat This" was "almost a taunt at Sylvia [Robinson], because there was definitely competition between us and Sugar Hill. It was like a challenge. It was really adventurous. I didn’t wanna do a typical rap record.[6]


"Looking for the Perfect Beat" was released in December 1982.[7] Attempts to get a full-length album for Bambaataa were not possible with Tommy Boy as Silverman's contract with him was strictly for singles; re-negotiating the contract proved to be difficult.[8] A full-length album titled Planet Rock: The Album was released in 1986, which contained the three other singles "Planet Rock", "Renegades of Funk", "Frantic Situation", and three previously unreleased tracks.[8][9]


From contemporary reviews, J.D. Considine gave the song a four out of five rating, writing in The Baltimore Sun that "Looking for the Perfect Beat" "doesn't manage the same sense of discovery" as "Planet Rock" but it "manages to be almost as catchy" stating that it "refines the relationship between the vocals and the electronic pulse" noting that " the rapping on the song was "fairly trite, but it makes up for that by always being "on the one.".[10]

Critic Robert Palmer placed "Looking for the Perfect Beat" as his top single of 1983 declaring it "The year's finest single" noting it was "an ingenious small symphony in rap rhythms, and a dance-floor favorite" noting that it was "the year's most widely imitated new sound."[11] "Looking For the Perfect Beat" was ranked at number 13 among the "Tracks of the Year" for 1983 by NME.[12]

Track listing[edit]

12" single (TB 831)[2]

  1. "Looking for the Perfect Beat (Vocal)" – 6:56
  2. "Bonus Beats II" – 2:00
  3. "Looking for the Perfect Beat (Instrumental)" – 6:58


Credits adapted from the liner notes and expanded with information in the article.[2]

  • Arthur Baker — producer, arrangements, mixing, composer, vocals
  • John Robie—producer, arrangements, mixing, composer
  • Tom Silverman — executive producer
  • Afrika Bambaataa Aasim — composer (on tracks "Looking For the Perfect Beat" and "Bonus Beats II")
  • Soul Sonic Force — composer (on tracks "Looking For the Perfect Beat" and "Bonus Beats II")


  1. ^ Taylor 2006, p. 25.
  2. ^ a b c d Looking For the Perfect Beat (label). Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force. Tommy Boy Records. TB 831.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  3. ^ Williams 2015, p. 58.
  4. ^ a b c d e Mao 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d e Buskin 2008.
  6. ^ Brewster & Broughton 1999.
  7. ^ "A galaxy of Solid Gold Talent on a Single Label". Billboard. Vol. 49, no. 51. 25 December 1982. p. 49. Look out for the new 12" single from the Jonzun Crew, "Space Is The Place" TB 8282 and in the coming week, the long-awaited follow up to "Planet Rock", "Looking For the Perfect Beat" by Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force.
  8. ^ a b Watts 2018.
  9. ^ Brown.
  10. ^ Considine 1983.
  11. ^ Palmer 1984.
  12. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Archived from the original on 14 November 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2018.