Beats and Breath - The intersections of culture, politics and the everyday experience. The beats and breath of life.
Archivist, storyteller, reporter, filmmaker and editor, Jackson Allers has focused the majority of his work on the subcultures of his surroundings. He has documented the plight of farm workers in rural North Carolina with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Coles (Duke University 1990-1994); advocated for the legal rights of the Roma population in Kosovo as the media adviser to the former Ombudsman, Marek Antoni Nowicki; created digital-audio archives for a book on ancient Bedouin stories in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, and spent the better part of 25 years writing about and documenting independent arts and culture movements.
For the last 8-plus years, Jackson has been based in the Arab world (Beirut, Lebanon) where he has been reporting on politics, and the independent musical trends in the Arab world for outlets like The National, Rolling Stone, Al Jazeera English, BBC, Democracy Now!, VICE, National Public Radio, Red Bull Music Academy Magazine, Free Speech Radio News, Red Flag Magazine, Audio Kultur and primarily here on Beats and Breath. He is the former Managing Editor now Contributing Editor of the prestigious global hip-hop news and culture website – World Hip Hop Market (est. 2004), and his work on Arab hip-hop in the region has been cited frequently as a reference point in numerous academic and broadcast settings. Jackson is currently writing a book and the rise of the Arab hip-hop movement, and has begun producing a series of documentaries (radio, TV) and written compendium pieces on the emergence of electronic music production in the Levant. On his off time, he digs for records in the flea markets and antique stores around the Middle East and North Africa.
Jackson’s narrative non-fiction piece – “Voice of the Streets: The Birth of Movement” – was licensed by Oxford University Press in July (2013) to be the 8th chapter to a new college textbook – Globalization: A Reader for Writers – being printed in December and making its way (8,000 copies) throughout North America (USA/Canada) in January 2014.
As well, Jackson was tapped in June 2013 to be a co-host/co-producer of a new Red Bull Music Academy Radio show emanating from the Middle East once a month – called Quarter Tone Frequency, which is aimed at exposing the incredible independent music coming from 4 locales (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, UAE). September 2014 will mark the end of the first season – with 12-more episodes scheduled for season 2 beginning in January, 2015.
In early 2014, Jackson was selected by BBC 4 to produce and host/present a long-format radio documentary about Arab rap. It is the 2nd such documentary he’s been awarded and goes alongside his 30-MINUTE radio documentary about Arab hip-hop and the Arab revolutions he produced in 2011 called ‘Rhymes and Revolution: Soundtrack to the Arab Spring,’ which aired on over 200 radio stations around the world.
Over the last two years, Jackson’s own filmmaking has moved into new territory – having increased his own involvement as a director/producer with outlets such as VICE, Red Bull Music Academy, and through session video work with a host of up-and-coming musical artists. In 2014, he signed up with a Red Bull musical opinion-maker – alternative electronic musician and multimedia artist Zahed Sultan - to produce a series of documentary treatments to coincide with Sultan’s 2014 touring schedule for his second full length album and 6th musical release - Eye Am Sound.
IN THE NEWS
My work has been published or aired in places as diverse as: The National, Le Monde, Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera English “People and Power”, VICE Magazine, Arte, Rolling Stone Magazine ME, Free Speech Radio News, Public Radio International, Interpress Service (IPS), The Project Syndicate, Menassat(dot)com, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Zawya Dow Jones, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Electronic Intifada, LA Weekly, Red Bull Music Academy Magazine, and Radical Media.
Since launching the site, Beats and Breath has been featured in publications like TIME Magazine, The National, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Star (Lebanon), and several regional culture websites. Television and radio appearances include interviews for Red Bull Music Academy Magazine, National Public Radio, Afropop Worldwide, Swedish TV, CBC, Arte, France5, Pacifica Radio, Free Speech Radio News, Channel4, BBC, Re-Volt Radio, KPFT 90.1 Fm (Houston, Texas), KPFK 90.7 FM (LA, California), KPFA 94.1 FM (Berkeley, California), Radio du Liban 96.2 FM (Beirut, Lebanon), and several local Arab satellite TV channels.
From 1996 – 2000, Jackson and Carlos put together some of the most seminal musical collaborations in LA-history – intergenerational events bridging the divides between hip-hop culture and the elders that made them – jumbled in with the new soul springing up in between. Think: Horace Tapscott, Billy Higgins, Pharoah Saunders, Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson, Gary Bartz, Les McCann, Eugene McDaniels, Derf Reklaw, Dwight Trible, Kamau Daáood, Terry Callier, Phil Ranelin, Charles Owens, Jessie Sharps, Dr. Art Davis, Leon Mobley, etc. hip-hop generation DJ Prince Paul, The Original Scheme Team (Divine Styler & Cokni O’Dire), Saul Williams, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, DJ Nu-Mark, Abstract Rude, Aceyalone, The Beat Junkies (J-Rocc, DJ Babu), Anti-pop Consortium, BLK Sunshine, Rob Smith, Mike Ladd, Sonic Sum, Huge Voodoo, and the beat goes on…
Although Jackson turned to journalism full-time late in 2002, he has maintained his connections to his past as an events producer. Since the Spring of 2006, he’s lived and worked in the Middle East as an editor, journalist, and documentary filmmaker.
In 2010, he completed a 15-minute documentary film with Lebanese filmmaker Siska (edited by Wissam Charaf) about two young rappers from the Palestinian refugee camp south of Beirut – Bourj al Barajneh. The film – “Life from the BBC” – is about the group I-Voice and their struggle to find a backup power generator at their home studio in the camp.
“Life from the BBC” premiered at South by Southwest Music Festival in March 2010 and was an official entry at the Houston Palestine Film Festival in May 2010, the Human Rights Film Festival in Beirut, January 2011, the HBO New York International Latino Film Festival in August 2011, and in 2012, the film was one of 9 films selected for the 2012 Norient Musikfilm Festival in Bern, Switzerland.
Over the last 2-3 years, Jackson’s own filmmaking has focused almost entirely on music-oriented subject matter. Check out more of his work on his vimeo page.