SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Syracuse spoken word artist and beat maker Cedric Bolton, who goes by the stage name Blackman Preach, released his third studio album March 12.
The new album, entitled “12 Years Gone,” is Bolton’s first release since 2007. The album title is a reference to the 12-year period during which Bolton did not make music. Bolton said the break from music was not easy, but it was necessary.
“When my wife lost her mom, I had to focus more on being present [for her],” Bolton said. “Right after that I lost my brother to suicide.”
Not long after he and his wife had recovered from the loss of their loved ones, Bolton was hit with another setback. While out to dinner with his wife in March of 2017, Bolton received word that he had been diagnosed with Stage III Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bolton said he was terrified to tell his wife, but the sheer emotion of the diagnosis was apparent on his face.
“[My wife] was like, ‘What’s going on, what’s wrong,’ and I just said, ‘I’ve just been diagnosed with cancer,'” Bolton said.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that attacks the body’s immune system by targeting white blood cells. Bolton was prescribed chemotherapy as treatment.
“Doing chemo, you know, getting the infusions twice, sometimes three times a month, it was a toll. It was very hard to do work,” Bolton said.
Still, Bolton refused to put life on pause.
“I myself decided that I was going to finish grad school, work, of course, because I needed to stay busy mentally and physically. But,” said Bolton, “you have to sacrifice something.”
Bolton stuck to his plan. He continued his work in Syracuse University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and finished his grad program at SU. But he did make a sacrifice: more years ticked by without a new album.
In 2019, Bolton finally had the time to focus on his artistic passion again. Since returning to making beats and writing spoken word poetry, Bolton has noticed a change in his music.
“What I’m making now, the soul of the sounds, the ingredients of how I’m putting stuff together now versus what I was doing then, I’m really excited about where I’m going with my music and where I’m going with my poetry,” Bolton said.
Bolton’s path to releasing “12 Years Gone” has imparted him with a series of valuable lessons. He hopes that listeners absorb these messages through the new album.
“Be open to discovery. Allow yourself to be heard. Challenge those spaces that you’re scared of, and live life to the fullest,” Bolton said.