About Jackson

Lebanese photographer Tanya Traboulsi’s ‘rooftop haircut series’ no. 6


Beats and Breath – The intersections of culture, politics and the everyday experience. The beats and breath of life.

Archivist, storyteller, reporter, filmmaker and broadcaster, 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 9-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 – that was printed in December and has begun making its way (8,000 copies) throughout North America (USA/Canada) as of January 2014. 

In June 2013, Jackson was tapped 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 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 calledRhymes 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 2014/2015 touring schedule for his second full length album and 6th musical release – Eye Am Sound.

(Watch the 3rd film in their 3-part documentary short film series picked up by Red Bull USA and debuted in February!)

2015 began with Jackson directing and co-shooting a film about a 26-year old luthier living and working in Beirut for the subculture/underground music magazine Audio Kultur (*their first documentary film and the first as AK’s resident filmmaker). As well, he was chosen by Red Bull Media House and Red Bull Music Academy to direct and shoot the ‘making of’ the first ever Red Bull Music Academy in Kuwait Session (January 30-31) -which he also co-hosted for Red Bull Music Academy.

And in February, Jackson travelled to Jamaica for the documentary “Bedouin Beats to Reggae Roots” to shoot and direct the making of an album at the Tuff Gong Studios – home to the Marley family legacy.


In 1996, Jackson co-founded the groundbreaking Los Angeles-based production company – Working Class Productions –  with the left coast’s most gifted purveyor of soul music  – Carlos Niño.

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.


Publications/broadcast outlets featuring Jackson’s work:  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.

Beats and Breath has been featured in publications like TIME Magazine, The National, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Star (Lebanon), LA Times, MTV Iggy, and several regional culture websites. Television and radio appearances include interviews for Red Bull Music Academy Magazine, National Public Radio, Afropop Worldwide, Swedish TV, NDTV (India), 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.



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.

Gil Scott-Heron,

14 thoughts on “About Jackson

  1. Beats and Breath is an excellent website. I noticed it by accident. Glad I did. Love reading about such interesting music coming from Middle East.

  2. Woah! Great content – who knew there was such independent art/music coming out of the region. Plus, I like the template/theme of this website. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very hard to get that “perfect balance” between usability and visual appeal. I must say that you’ve done a excellent job with this. Outstanding Blog!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s