By Rachel Yang
October 14, 2020 at 09:14 PM EDT
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Saint Dog, a founding member of the hip-hop collective Kottonmouth Kings, has died. He was 44.

Born Steven Michael Thronson, the rapper was found unresponsive in a friend's residence in Victorville, Calif., around midnight on Wednesday, according to a coroner's release from the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department. Emergency responders pronounced Thronson dead at 12:10 a.m.

According to TMZ, which first reported the news, Saint Dog's friend found the star struggling to breathe in a bedroom and called 911 for help. An autopsy will be performed to determine Saint Dog's cause of death, which is being investigated by the sheriff's department.

Saint Dog's management announced his passing via his Instagram page on Wednesday.

"Rest In Peace, Rest In Power to a true underground legend. Saint Dog aka Saint Vicious passed away yesterday in Southern California," his team wrote. "Saint was a unique individual that had a profound impact on anyone he came in contact with. While Saint is no longer with us, his music will live on forever. Rest easy, King."

Saint Dog founded the Kottonmouth Kings in 1996 with D-Loc, Johnny Richter, Daddy X, Lou Dog, and DJ Bobby B. The California-based group fused hip hop, punk, and rap-rock, along with other genres, and often talked about marijuana in their music.

He appeared in the band's first three projects: Stoners Reeking Havoc, Royal Highness, and Hidden Stash. Saint Dog also contributed to Mile High, Krown Power, and the group's last album, 2018's Kingdom Come.

Saint Dog also released three solo albums, with his last being 2019's Bozo. 

Many of his former bandmates paid tribute to the artist on Instagram, including D-Loc, Richter, and DJ Bobby B.

"Your memories will never fade to black and Your voice will always be with us. A true legend on the mic when he bust," D-Loc wrote. "My teacher when it came to this rapping He wrote the first songs. Bump and so high and I packed a bong. We took a trip to Hollywood and got a record deal. Beatboxing in the club flexing mad skills. Broke as a joke scraping resin no green. Big plans big dream’s just kids we started Kottonmouth King’s. Rest in peace and pay respect to the original the king of all kings. SAINT DOG"

Suburban Noize Records, an independent record label founded by Kevin Zinger and Daddy X, also honored Saint Dog.

"We will miss you and your big heart. You were one of a kind and our hearts our broken. But we promise to keep your legacy alive threw your music," the label said on Instagram. "Everyone please take some time and say a few words or tell a story about our fallen brother below. He touched so many and we will keep his legacy thriving. 🙏👑♠️ #RIPSaintDog."

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