I remember the first time I heard Shiloh Dynasty's voice. It's not just that Shiloh Dynasty's voice is incredible, although it is—it's that to hear it, you have to be searching.
For me, the first time was in late December of 2015. This mellow, dream-like song called "I'm Sorry" by a producer named Swell came up on my SoundCloud feed during a hunt for new music. Producers on SoundCloud have developed supportive communities of like-minded peers, and they aggressively repost each other's songs. This means that if you follow one plugged-in producer on SoundCloud, you inadvertently follow many. It can be annoying, but it often rewards those looking to discover new stuff.
"I'm Sorry" was on my feed because another producer—I have no idea who, but thank you—reposted it. I pressed play, and I remember being immediately curious about the voice. The production on the song was strong, but the six-second vocal sample was the star, with tones of Sampha, Tracy Chapman, and Nick Drake delivered with a gripping rawness .
In the description of Swell's "I'm Sorry," there was a link labeled "original" which led to a Vine post by a user named ShilohDynasty. I went to the profile page to see more, and it took no more than a minute to realize that I had just stumbled upon something extraordinary.
Shiloh's Vine account hosts only 13 video clips, six seconds each, and hours could be spent looping those 13 clips, over and over and over. Discovering it was like experiencing Jandek—the legendary experimental recluse—for the first time, albeit repurposed for the internet, much less prolific, and with objectively good music. It took Jandek decades to establish his cult-worthy mystery—Shiloh did it with one perfectly curated social media account, in just 78 seconds of content. Each clip shows a mostly obscured artist with an acoustic guitar and a gently soulful voice performing concise, well-timed song snippets, seemingly designed for Vine’s six-second loops. Those songs existed nowhere else, so I learned after relentless digging online.
I found only a few solid facts. Shiloh Dynasty started to share music on Vine at the end of 2014. Over the next couple of years, Shiloh's account became a beloved presence that would go on to accumulate tens of millions of loops. It also became a go-to source for samples, particularly among producers popular on SoundCloud. Dozens of songs featuring samples from Shiloh's Vines gained traction on SoundCloud, and several now have millions of plays, including Swell's "I'm Sorry," which has over 30 million across platforms.
But by the time I discovered Shiloh, things had gotten quiet. Shiloh's last Vine was posted on April of 2015, and after that, there was some activity on Twitter and Instagram but by September of 2016 everything went silent. At that point, there was already a devoted following waiting to hear that enrapturing voice again.
Was Shiloh a male or a female? Where was Shiloh from? Will we ever hear full versions of these songs? Did something happen?
Months went by. Fans and spectators became curious, then worried, then upset. It started becoming apparent just how little information there was. Was Shiloh a male or a female? Where was Shiloh from? Will we ever hear full versions of these songs? Did something happen?
Sometime during all of this bewilderment, completely unsubstantiated rumors of suicide started popping up in the comments section of Instagram. It's now been about a year since Shiloh has posted anything. As imaginations run wild, the story has grown into a morbidly fascinating underground myth.
Every few months since that first encounter, I found myself thinking about what became of Shiloh Dynasty. I would check in on Shiloh's accounts hoping to see something new, but my next encounter with that voice caught me by complete surprise. On August 5, 2017, XXXTENTACION shared a preview of his new song "Jocelyn Flores" on Snapchat, and Shiloh's unmistakable voice was all over it. It was unsettlingly bittersweet, this rumored-to-be-dead singer's voice appearing on a song that XXX had explained was about a girl who committed suicide.
Of all 11 songs on XXX's album 17, Shiloh Dynasty is featured on three of them: "Jocelyn Flores," "Carry On," and "Everyone Dies in Their Nightmares," all produced by Postu. None of the Shiloh features are new though; they are all samples from old Shiloh posts like this (used for "Jocelyn Flores"), this ("Everyone Dies in Their Nightmares"), and this ("Carry On.") Producer Potsu tweeted about his involvement, "X just gave me Shiloh samples he wanted beats on."
[HEARING SHILOH ON "JOCELYN FLORES"] was unsettlingly bittersweet, this rumored-to-be-dead singer's voice appearing on a song that XXX had explained was about a girl who committed suicide.
Since the release of the XXXTENTACION album, Shiloh rumors have escalated, and there's been talk that the enigmatic artist is a) a female, and b) alive and well. A contributor to Genius who claims to have spoken to Potsu about the X album commented on Reddit, "I was under the impression that the girl, Shiloh Dynasty, who is sampled in all three of those songs, committed suicide but she is alive and well! Just likes to stay out of the spotlight." Another Reddit user replied, "Shiloh isn't a girl lmao it's some dude off insta that posted singing videos for a while and then just stopped." The first user continued, "Could be transsexual...I'm not trolling, the producer was messaging me and said he met her, explicitly said 'her' in the messages so unless you've met Shiloh, I don't know what to tell you."
The confusing rumors continue on the annotations on the Genius lyrics page for "Jocelyn Flores": "Shiloh Dynasty was a boy that is rumored to have committed suicide earlier this year in January... X possibly put him in this song because it was an appropriate theme for losing people to suicide and depression like Jocelyn Flores herself. Rest in paradise, Jocelyn and Shiloh."
For most artists, such a prominent presence on one of the most popular albums in the country would be a breakthrough moment and the perfect time to step into the spotlight. Shiloh, though, has remained silent. He or she is a new kind of internet mystery, one that keeps unraveling, and whose power is partially derived from the insistence on total mystery. The Weeknd—the post-2010's best example of an inscrutably mysterious artist gaining some success—was never this obscured, and had collections of songs to hang some beliefs on. Shiloh remains a cipher, utterly unknowable except for those Vine loops. I think that's why I can't stop going back.