A Publication of WTVP

‘A rapper’s approach’

by Laurie Pillman | Photo by Ron Johnson |

Peoria author De’Marcus Hamilton helps students chase their post-classroom dreams with a literary mixtape

As high school seniors start their final year, some are making decisions about careers while others are focused on college. Peoria native De’Marcus Hamilton, under the pen name Marc Supreme, wants students to go into post-secondary education with a better plan than he did.

In his book, D@mn, I Graduate in May!: A Literary Mixtape for Life After High School and College, he tries to dispel the belief that college alone will bring success and to show students how to leverage their educations to achieve their dreams.

When Hamilton graduated from Peoria High School, he had a poor cumulative grade point average. He says he wasn’t focused his first two years, but with his mom’s help, he improved his outlook and got a diploma. He was hungry for success, so the now 36-year-old got his bachelor’s degree in journalism and his master’s degree in public affairs, thinking it was the path to becoming an anchor on CNN or a host of 106 & Park on the BET Network.

Two years later, he was homeless and cleaning toilets at a gym in Atlanta, wondering what he’d done wrong.

“I did the things that I thought were the right way to get me to where I wanted to go,” he said, “and it still didn’t equal where I wanted to go.”

A revelation

The epiphany came when he got a job recruiting for Southern Illinois University Carbondale and later at Northern Illinois University. As he listened to students talk about what they wanted to do in college, he realized that he’d approached his education wrong.

College alone doesn’t bring success, he concluded. Education must be leveraged with experience and connections to make dreams happen. He wrote D@mn, I Graduate in May! — DIGIM for short — to help students circumvent some of the troubles he encountered.

“I took a rapper’s approach. That’s why it’s a literary mixtape because rappers drop mixtapes. It’s not a whole bunch of jargon. It’s not over your head. It’s not all these work-cited pages and all that garbage,” Hamilton said. “It was just about look, here’s my experience, for what it’s worth. It may apply. It may not. But this is sound information on how you want to approach dream chasing.”

Big-name publishers loved the concept but told Hamilton they needed 300 pages to make it work. He didn’t want to write something that had been done before. He wanted to do something different that would seem cool, easy, fun and interesting to the people who needed the information. Rather than cave to the publishers, he self-published. The decision made a major difference. 

Hamilton/Supreme’s book is approachable for a generation used to getting information quickly. At under 100 pages — some chapters are as short as two — the book reads like a social media post. Emojis are scattered throughout the text. The table of contents is set up like an album tracklist. The whole book is easily digestible in a short sitting, with essential concepts standing out on bold black pages.

Drake vs. Migos majors

One key concept Hamilton/Supreme shares is understanding the difference between “Drake” and “Migos” majors.

“You got two different types of majors,” he said. “You got Drake majors, and you got Migos majors. If you want to be successful in any career, you need three things. Fundamentally you need education, you need a network, and you need experience. Drake is a rapper, singer and producer who has all those things built in. Migos is a trio of rappers where each is legit in their own right, but it takes the three of them [Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff] to make up the Migos. Quavo can be your education, Offset can be your networking, and Takeoff can be your experience.”

Like Drake, some majors have everything, said Hamilton/Supreme. For example, a nursing degree requires classes, clinical on-the-job training, and professional interactions that will grow your network. Other degrees only provide education. Students aren’t required to take an internship, develop a portfolio, or expand their network before graduation. It’s up to them to figure out how to put everything together, like assembling the Migos, to find success.

“What I’m trying to say in the book is that not everybody needs college, but everybody needs to be educated no matter what they want to do,” said Hamilton/Supreme. “So whether or not you go to college is completely predicated on your end goal. I encourage people to figure out their end goal first.”

Hamilton/Supreme was writing his book when he and a few friends formed the Yani Collective to help host Juneteenth activities in Peoria. The Collective also decided to host DIGIM career and college fairs in the area, bringing dozens of experts in various fields together to share advice with students. Their new take on the traditional college fair started with 200 students at the George Washington Carver Center in the spring of 2022. It was so successful that they hosted 500 students at Bradley in the fall and held a third this past spring in Springfield.

“I love seeing those partnerships get developed, and the collaborations begin to happen with other folks from different cities, different sides of the country,” he said. “And now they’ve got a relationship too. That’s what’s dope.”

Hamilton/Supreme is excited to work with students to help them achieve their dreams, which he’s done in places as far away as Denver and North Carolina.

“It’s been a journey,” he said. “And I hope it’s impactful for students. I hope it helps them. I hope after reading the book, they feel like they got a little bit better handle on how they want to go forward. And that’s really what it’s about. Just providing context in a world that has so much information and misinformation. I just want to help people.”

To learn more about Marc Supreme, D@mn, I Graduate in May! or DIGIM events, visit

Laurie Pillman

Laurie Pillman

is an author and freelance writer/editor, based in Peoria