On August 11, 1973, DJ Kool Herc birthed the influential genre that the world has come to know as hip hop. From a basement party in the Bronx, New York, a culture shifting movement was created with a set of turntables and a mic. Today, we officially celebrate 50 years of the genre, that has now gone on—and continues—to shape and impact the world.

Gearing up for the momentous occasion, EBONY had the honor of speaking to several hip hop greats—old and new—about the art form that means so much to them. From Queen Latifah to Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers, here's what some of the best in the genre had to say.

Queen Latifah

During a recent interview with the "U-N-I-T-Y" emcee, she spoke on how it has changed not only her life, but the lives of so many others, too.

"Hip hop has been one of the forms of music that has been created by Black people that has transformed the world. It's something that we are still able to thrive off of. We've created many genres, but hip hop is the one you still see us as leaders in. From behind the cameras, to on the stage, this is like our gift to the world. I hope that we just continue to share it and realize it is our gift to the world."

Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers

Still ensuring that hip hop gets its just due, emcee Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers not only hosts a weekly streaming radio show on Rock The Bells Radio, but he also spends much of his time teaching others about the genre.

"The 50th anniversary is important to me, and I hope this anniversary is important to the entire culture. I know cats from my era cherish this moment because we know what we've put in. When it comes to sharing what it means to me, I could be here all day, but basically I am hip hop. It is a manifestation of what am I, and what it is. Hip hop didn't make me, I made hip hop."

MC Lyte

A true pioneer for women in the industry, MC Lyte sat down with EBONY just ahead of her Rock The Bells performance. Here's her response on what the genre means to her.

"Wow, it means my life. It means freedom of expression through lyric, music, dance, art and community. It means family. I've been involved with this for more than 35-years, it's like a parent watching their child at graduation. For me, it's a plus to have something so inclusive that's been able to persevere even when there have been aims to put a stop to the freedom of speech. There have been so many things we've come up against, but we're still standing here today with legends who have gone on to create empires and enterprises. I'm excited to be a part of that."