Top Billin’: Stories of Laughter, Lessons, and Triumph

Amistad. Apr. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9780063237629. $29.99. MEMOIR
Comedian and actor Bellamy became a household name to millions of teens and new adults in the 1990s, as the host of MTV Jams and other programs on the network. There he interviewed and hung out with a plethora of musical acts and hip-hop stars, while his classy, debonair fashion and goofy charm appealed to viewers. In this straightforward memoir, Bellamy vividly reminisces about his life and his years as an MTV VJ. Most of the memoir is told in amusing, nonchronological anecdotes. Bellamy narrates moments such as his stint as a VJ for the spring break and summer MTV programs and his impressions of meeting Janet Jackson for the first time, which allows readers who may not be familiar with him to see why he resonated with audiences. The book also includes his thoughts on topics ranging from police brutality to fatherhood. Though the memoir is often lighthearted, later chapters become more serious and occasionally heartfelt in tone, especially when discussing thedeaths of family members.
VERDICT Anachronistic tales throughout and Bellamy’s sometimes overly simplistic lessons and advice take away from the book’s allure. This title is best to give to his fans, especially those who grew up watching him.
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