Toward the end of 2017, a haunting voice that appeared all over XXXTENTACION's album 17 became a topic of interest. The voice was that of Shiloh Dynasty, a mysterious artist who became very popular on Vine and then disappeared completely from social media in 2016. Of 11 songs on 17, Shiloh's voice was featured on three of them—"Jocelyn Flores," "Carry On," and "Everyone Dies in Their Nightmares." Since then, there's been speculation about Shiloh's gender, whereabouts, and whether or not he or she is even alive. Read more about that here.
The XXX album brought a lot of attention to Shiloh, but months later, none of the questions surrounding this enigmatic artist have been answered. Shiloh remains silent, and there's no new information. One thing has happened though: Shiloh's impact has become even more profound in pockets of underground music.
There are powerful communities starting to form based on their shared love for this kind of music and the ethos attached to it, and Shiloh Dynasty is becoming ingrained in the scene.
It's not on the charts or in the media, but a little digging reveals just how much influence Shiloh has among a legion of artists and fans, especially in the fast-growing lo-fi community. A Spotify playlist made by a user named raynuralim called "Shiloh Dynasty" features only songs that sample Shiloh, made mostly by DIY artists with lo-fi leaning soundscapes. It includes almost 300 songs. When you click through to the artists included and check out their numbers, almost all of them have one song that's far more popular than all the others. That outlying song is almost always the one that samples Shiloh Dynasty. The enigmatic artist hasn't released a single song in the last six months, but has gone from 5,000 to 50,000 Spotify followers, a 949% increase, according to Indify.
There's also this, a 24/7 stream on YouTube that plays only Shiloh-sampled music. At any given time, there are hundreds of listeners, and almost 100,000 likes. The comments section on this live stream is active with fans and other artists discussing the music, sharing their own songs, and talking about their feelings. Many of these users are regulars, who leave and tell the others, "Be back later!"
Even without any activity, Shiloh's following on social media keeps growing. It's been over a year since a post, but Shiloh's Instagram account still gains around 10,000 followers every week. In total, the account has added over 300,000 followers since XXX's album came out. Shiloh went so long without activity on Twitter that the account was taken over, most likely by an impostor.
As the barriers to entry in music become lower and lower, there's been a shift in the popular sound and aesthetic preferences of young music fans and artists. The bedroom pop, alternative hip-hop, and lo-fi styles that used to be relegated to the SoundCloud underground are starting to compete with mainstream hits. As homemade music becomes more popular, unpolished sounds are becoming not only adequate, but desirable—even to casual music fans.
"Sampling Shiloh Dynasty in the lo-fi community seems to almost be a rite of passage the past few years." – Athena Koumis, Editor of Music Culture at Spotify
"There is something comforting and nostalgic about the lo-fi aesthetic that makes it appealing to produce and listen to," says Athena Koumis, Editor of Music Culture at Spotify. "The profile of lo-fi hip-hop in particular has considerably risen in the past few years in part to it's growing popularity as a go-to choice for listeners seeking background music to study, chill, and relax to. This has allowed the music to reach ears outside the core lo-fi enthusiast community, reaching listeners who may not even realize what the style of music is called but just know they enjoy listening to it while doing whatever activity of their choice."
There are powerful communities starting to form based on their shared love for this kind of music and the ethos attached to it, and Shiloh Dynasty is becoming ingrained in the scene. "Sampling Shiloh Dynasty in the lo-fi community seems to almost be a rite of passage the past few years," Koumis explains. "With every new wave of producers, there seems to be a particular artist or scene that developing producers fixate on. Before Shiloh Dynasty, for the longest time it was Aaliyah (rest in peace). Can't say for certain why Shiloh Dynasty is in this position right now, but I think the piercing emotional quality of Shiloh's voice that feels so universal combined with the allure of mystery, and the unknown certainly plays a factor."
"It's been truly amazing to watch what was once a small community lo-fi heads expand to the listener base of this music today," says Koumis. "After just a few years, there are over 1.2 million combined followers of the Spotify playlists that feature lo-fi music, and many of these producers are independent or on indie labels." The growing communities around lo-fi music and the enduring mystery of Shiloh have created the perfect storm for underground folklore. Let's hope this is only the beginning of the story.