Aviad Cohen is setting a new standard within the music industry, bringing Messiah-centered music to all four corners of the globe through an innovative, explosive, controversial and one-of-a-kind audio experience.
Prior to his current musical endeavors, he was celebrated worldwide as the Jewish Hip-Hop artist 50 Shekel. But an encounter with Yeshua Messiah changed the course of his life.
Aviad was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and raised in a Conservative Jewish home in New York and New Jersey. Although this musical prodigy only took a few lessons in formal piano training, he always felt drawn to the piano and synthesizer. Aviad was able to hear a song and play it by ear – without knowing how to cite read. He realizes now that it was a gift from God.
After graduating from Hofstra University with a B.A. in Communications, and a concentration in film production, he moved to Los Angeles, where he acquired a wide variety of skills. As an up-and-coming talent in the entertainment industry, he achieved global notoriety when he splashed onto the airwaves as the Jewish Rapper, 50 Shekel with In Da Shul, a parody of 50 Cent’s In Da Club. It became an overnight sensation on the Internet, peaking the interest of established national and international publications, television networks and radio stations.
Based on the influence of key religious rabbis within New York City’s Jewish community, Aviad found himself on the verge of seriously converting to Orthodox Judaism. Several Christian “50 Shekel fans” had begun planting seeds of truth, sharing the Scriptures with Aviad. Waking him on his clock radio, Aviad would listen to sermons talking about Moses and Jesus. God’s Word does not return void and it was coming in loud and clear. Torn between rabbinic Jewish traditions and the possibility of a “real” relationship with God through Yeshua Messiah, Aviad attended a Jews for Jesus ingathering in Pennsylvania.
After reading the Bible and learning more about Yeshua, Aviad realized that He is indeed the promised Messiah foretold by the ancient Jewish Prophets. Aviad had to make a decision: to continue as 50 Shekel on a path that would bring continual fame and riches, or follow Yeshua, which would result in being ostracized and persecuted by the Jewish community at large. To be used as God’s vessel, he would have to risk losing everything—friends, his reputation, his career, finances and perhaps even his life.
“During the late 1990s my Jewish grandfather, who escaped from the Treblinka death camp during the Holocaust, planted a very important seed. Out of nowhere, he looked at me and said, ‘Aviad, always tell the truth. Always be honest.’ He never mentioned this to me before but during this brief time we had alone together, it seems rather evident that his statement was a God-led overshadowing of things to come. Once I found out that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah, I had to do just that.”
God now called him to proclaim the Good News to both Jews and Gentiles. Aviad set aside the 50 Shekel persona and began to write lyrics and produce songs that speak about the real thing – the true love of God. No longer a parody music artist, he would have to get through to his current and future audience with a groundbreaking innovative sound and a bold, uncompromising message. He counted the cost. His life was worth more than 50 Shekels.
Aviad’s first album, Hooked on the Truth, is an energetic Synthpop style testimony-driven album. It was a daring move – especially for a new Jewish believer. DJs began to play it on radio airwaves and it began to circulate in rotation on Internet radio stations. Audiences were drawn by the beats, but their lives were touched by the message.
“As I’m singing any song from my albums, you will always hear Yeshua Messiah mentioned. For the first 29 years of my life, nobody ever told me that Yeshua is my personal Messiah. With the talent and tools He has blessed me with, along with the help of those who support this music ministry, Yeshua’s message is coming through. The sound of truth is being proclaimed and heard."