BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
The Artist Formerly Known as 50 Shekel
By Hannah Goodwyn
Rap artist 50 Shekel is no more. The man behind the popular Jewish version of 50 Cent has put that life aside.
Meet Aviad Cohen. He’s still the same fun-loving Jew, who loves to write and produce songs for his fans. The difference is he’s more Jew now than he ever was before.
In the midst of his emerging career, Aviad grew curious about his faith. He wanted to learn more about God and how to know Him. So, he set up residence back in New York after being in Los Angeles for a few years. There he met with a rabbi who taught him the finer points of being a good Jew. But that wasn’t enough.
“Seems like it was more about doing and less about knowing God,” Aviad says.
Living in Jackson Heights, NY, he was pursuing a deeper level of faith and appreciation in his Jewish roots all the while being 50 Shekel, the Jewish rapper. Through a series of events including a Christian radio station and the release of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, Aviad began to question Judaism. When he heard about Jesus’ sacrifice, he saw the Truth.
“God’s Word made sense coming from this Christian pastor,” Aviad says. “These miraculous morning radio sermons would begin the journey towards my ultimate salvation.”
Aviad began his new life at a Jews for Jesus meeting in Pennsylvania in 2004. This young artist had been looking for God, and finally found Him through realizing and acknowledging the Messiah is Yeshua (Jesus Christ).
“Little did I know Jesus was more Jewish than my rabbi,” Aviad says.
The Messiah has come. He came, died, and rose again. These are the truths that Aviad began to recognize and now works to share with other Jews and Gentiles. So many people are missing out on the Truth, which compels Aviad to use his talents to share his new found faith in Yeshua.
“They are missing out on the Truth,” he says. “Jesus gave up His own life. He was not killed. He gave it up willingly. He was the last sacrifice. This was supposed to happen.”
With a sincere hope and holy frustration, Aviad seeks to do God’s will in making music that probe his listeners to ask questions about their faith in the hopes they find the Truth in their journey. His latest CD, Hooked On the Truth, does just that. It’s a compilation of Aviad’s original rap songs, a reading from Psalm and Mark, and a “Meeting with the Rabbi” that creatively examines the differences between faith and Judaism. Here's the kicker: it was done entirely on his laptop.
The verse in II Corinthians 5:17 is especially relevant to Aviad. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
Aviad dropped the 50 Shekel label symbolizing his turn from an old lifestyle and his new faith in the Messiah. He left everything behind: his plans as a rap artist, an entertainment company owner, and his lustful actions in looking for satisfaction through sex. All of that is behind him now.
“Who cares about the sex? I want the Savior,” he says.
Life isn’t easy, but knowing the Truth and love from Yeshua makes everything more than bearable. He’s also just taking it one step at a time.
“I used to commit adultery against God,” Aviad says. “It was destroying me…. I’m staying celibate until I get married or even if I never get married. It’s not a suggestion from God. It’s a requirement.”
He freely confesses past sin and resolves to be repentant of his wrongful actions against his Father, God.
“I used to watch porn; now it digusts me. I know that Satan uses it to try to trip me up. I would be lying to you if I told you that I don’t struggle with lust issues,” he says. “The good thing though is that I am aware of it and am working to overcome these issues.”
Many things have changed for Aviad since 2004 when he became a "True Jew" and confessed his faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. In giving God his whole life, Aviad has gained a close, personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe, which is what he wanted most of all. By giving up 50 Shekel and his past, Aviad is free to follow his Messiah’s leading. Through it all, God even has given him the opportunity to start his own entertainment company, Hebrew Homie Entertainment.
“I have refocused my direction on something greater,” Aviad says of his artistic transformation. “I’m not doing it for the Jewish culture anymore. I’m dedicated to glorifying the Lord instead of Judaism.”
Hooked On the Truth doesn’t play on his thoughts on Jewish culture, like his 50 Shekel CDs did. He’s got a new motivation these days.
“After all, Jesus is the executive producer, and this is really His album,” Aviad says. “This [album] is coming from a young 'True Jew' who is using modern electronica music to share the same Gospel that the apostles were sharing back in the day.”
He’s moved on from rap artist to God praiser.
“For real… it’s all about Him,” he says.
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