Leila Steinberg

Story Telling

The Secret Jewish History of Tupac Shakur

Seth Rogovoy
September 7, 2019
Image by Getty Images


At age 17, Shakur and his family moved to the Bay Area. Here, Shakur, already an aspiring rapper, met the woman who would prove integral to his career and artistic development.

Leila Steinberg was the daughter of a Mexican-Turkish activist mother and a Polish-Jewish criminal defense attorney who ran a spoken-word poetry workshop called the Microphone Sessions in Oakland, California. Steinberg was raised, as she put it, “surrounded by the workings of the justice system and took a front row seat at the personal tragedies and socio-economic pressures that turn so many at-risk youths into hardened felons.”

In Shakur, she clearly saw the very embodiment of her life’s work: a real-world blend of urban street life, political activism, cultural literacy, and natural talent, with the charisma of a born star. The two hit it off, and Shakur moved in with Steinberg’s husband and two children, with Steinberg serving as a mentor and manager until the point where his career required more professional oversight. The two remained close friends until the end of Shakur’s short life.

Shakur released his debut album, “2Pacalypse Now,” in late 1991. It remained his most political and socially conscious album — the work of a nascent, would-be prophet — with songs mostly about and addressed to black America, unflinching portrayals of racism, police brutality, poverty and teen pregnancy (as in the infamous “Brenda’s Got a Baby”), but songs that didn’t let his listeners off the hook for their complicity in the dire situations he depicts. The album undoubtedly received its biggest boost when rock-critic-in-chief Quayle condemned it saying, “There’s no reason for a record like this to be released.”

Shakur only recorded four more albums over the next five years, but they were all multi-million sellers that made him the biggest name in hip-hop. He wore the cloak of a gangster or thug, but was really more a pavement prophet, rapping about the prison of ghetto life in “Trapped” and likening that life to one of slow genocide in “Words of Wisdom,” in which he calls on his people to “break the chains” that enslave them. One of his most brutal portrayals of poverty and the cycle of violence it breeds, “Troublesome 96” even samples the melody of “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, perhaps a subtle call for a kind of urban Zionism to solve the social and political ills of black life in America.


  1. Exclusive with Tupac Shakur’s Mentor & Manager, Leila Steinberg
    • Profile
      • UMC All Access host Angelique Perrin sat down with Tupac Shakur’s mentor, first manager and friend Leila Steinberg.
    • Videos
      • Video #1
        Channel:- WatchUMBC
        Published On:- 2017-June-22nd
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      • Tupac Shakur’s first manager Ms Leila Steinberg give us a inside look at their complex relationship and Sets the record straight!!
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      • Video #1
        Channel:- MAKAVELI MEDIA
        Published On:- 2020-May-23rd
  3. Loving Ourselves for The Sake of Others
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      Date Published:- 2020-November-28th


Exclusive with Tupac Shakur’s Mentor & Manager, Leila Steinberg

  1. Manage Me?
    • I am going to manage you
    • I don’t even love business
    • I love music
    • There is power in music
    • An artist that owns their music is more powerful than anything
    • Even more powerful than our president
  2. Creative
    • Spirituals
      • Fighting for freedom
      • Using code
      • Codewords used to hide the words from those who are not supposed to know
    • Hip Hop
      • HipHop started with the same secrecy
  3. Love
    • Our hearts are messed up
    • Whether you are rich or poor, you are damaged
  4. Ray Love
    • Cab Calloway Grandson
      • Music Industry
        • Do not work with my son
        • We do not want to be in this business
        • It is too toxic
        • If you do not stop, you are gonna pay a price
        • One day somebody is gonna come and have an influence over you son too
      • Pulled Back
        • And, so I pulled back
        • It was a private conversation
        • And, so I could not tell Ray
  5. Foundation
    • AIM4TheHeart.Org

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