RIP, David Mills.

If you enjoyed The Wire, underground jazz and funk musicians  (are there any other kind?), or mocking journalists who badly misidentify black celebrities, then you lost a friend and cohort in David Mills.

Mills, a one-time Washington Post music critic who went on to an Emmy-winning career as a TV writer and producer, died Tuesday after suffering a brain aneurysm. He was 48.

The terrible irony of it is that Mills passed away only two weeks before the debut of the upcoming HBO drama Treme, a series set in a historic black section of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

I have no doubt it will be fantastic.

I have no doubt about this because that’s pretty much how things worked when Mills was involved.

It’s tough to narrow down his accomplishments into a single paragraph. But among the highlights are: producing memorable interviews with a pair of now-forgotten rap stars, one from Sister Souljah that Bill Clinton later used for political opportunism in the 1992 presidential campaign and another from Public Enemy’s Professor Griff that resulted in his ouster from the group; writing for a murderer’s row of big-time TV shows including Homicide, NYPD Blue and The Corner, which many consider the precursor to The Wire; and creating an unusually eclectic and thoughtful blog, Undercover Black Man.

I came to know of Mills through UBM (actually, it was the First Lady who put me on to the blog. Yep, I know how to pick’em). At that point, to me, he was just a cool, smart guy from Cali who knew a lot about the music and television industries.

He didn’t let on that he was a big deal, you know?

And when I decided to make my own tepid effort at creating and running a blog, he was one of the first to give me an encouraging word and some linkage.

He didn’t have to do it. But he did, and I’m truly grateful. If he didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be writing over here (as infrequent as that may be in recent months) or boast a new cadre of friends who are some of the coolest colored folks you’ve ever wanted to meet.

Anyway, since there’s a sort of lofty-style of writing that is beyond my grasp, let me refer you to better tributes here, here and here.

Also, in the final post over at his spot, he included a 14-minute preview of “Treme” that I feel obliged to share here.

RIP, Mills. I’ll be watching and writing.

P.S. If you have to die, you might as well do it at Café du Monde. We should all be so lucky.


Joel Anderson —blackink —  writes about sports, politics, crime, courts, and other issues far beyond his competence at BuzzFeed. He has worked at media outlets in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Atlanta and contributed to a number of publications, including The Root and The American Prospect, among many others.
  • Val

    UBM used to stop by my former and first blog all the time. Which made me feel good as a new blogger. I’ll always be greatful for that.

    I’m in shock to hear of David’s passing. I look forward to see Treme. I know it’s going to be great.

  • wildwhuck

    Wow I didn’t know he was the UBM; I love that site. RIP

  • Ugh. This is awful.

  • Oh NO! This is a huge loss. Gone at 48? Goodness.

  • NJ TV critic Alan Sepinwall wrote a great piece on his blog:

  • Ash

    I’m an avid follower of Undercover Black Man too. I had no idea that was him, either! Looking back, it was so obvious. What a loss. Make sure you guys tune in for the premiere of his show, Treme, on April 11.