Articles by Alejandro Ramirez

From Kool Herc to Kendrick, Hip-Hop History Has a Home at Harvard

Harvard University—that old, stuffy, Ivy League institution—might not seem like the most hip-hop-friendly place. After all, hip-hop grew from Bronx block parties in the 1970s, where Black and Latino kids created a new culture in the shadows of abandoned buildings, rubble and project housing, not some quad full of old-money kids. But considering that recent […]



Creativity, Collaboration and Confidence at The Hip Hop Transformation

While small kids run around the Cambridge Community Center’s main floor—laughing and stomping, sneakers squeaking, chased by adults who strike a balance between fun and authoritative—a very different noise is blaring out of a small room deep in the building’s basement. Down here, syncopated drums, digitized strings and confident vocals boom from a Mac monitor […]


A Night in Havana Club

“It’s okay to feel sexy if you want.”  Johnny Giraldo is onstage with his wife, Felicita, gliding back and forth on silent eight-beat measures—1-2-3 pause, 5-6-7 pause, left-right-together hold, right-left-together hold—their backs to the crowd. Behind them, dozens of people mirror their movements on a hardwood ballroom floor, learning the basic steps of salsa. They […]