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Ice Cube's intro in his newest album starts with

Yeah, you know me. Super OG.
Always down to take a knee.

What does this last sentence mean? He won‘t literally take someone’s knee I guess..

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    If you follow American football, this is an easy question, so I'll leave it to an American English speaker. Interestingly there are two possible interpretations. – Mari-Lou A Mar 6 '19 at 8:23
  • @Mari-LouA Haha, unfortunately I don't watch American Football :D where I live, Handball is something like the "national sport". – Matthias Burger Mar 6 '19 at 8:33
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    But you could google the phrase "take a knee". Just as I did for OG (never heard of it before) – Mari-Lou A Mar 6 '19 at 8:35
  • I immediately interpreted take a knee to refer to bowing to royalty (or, metaphorically, acquiescing to and respecting authority), which is probably how it would be interpreted to those in the UK (or anywhere that has a monarchy), and how it might have been in interpreted in the US prior to the whole football issue. – Jason Bassford Mar 6 '19 at 20:01
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Semantically

The meaning of "take a knee" is very similar to "take a seat".

phrase
formal

If you take a seat, you sit down.

  • 'Take a seat,' he said in a bored tone.
  • Rachel smiled at him as they took their seats on opposite sides of the table.

The difference between "take a seat" and "take a knee" is that with the latter, you kneel instead of sit.


Contextually

The lyrics are not just focusing on the semantical meaning. They are in reference to a recent form of activism centered around NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who chose to kneel for the American anthem (when it is customary and expected to stand up) as a way of peacefully protesting because America is (quote Kaepernick) "a country that oppresses black people and people of color".

This sparked a wave of people taking a knee in support of both Kaepernick (who received backlash for his activism) and Kaepernick's cause.

Contextually, "taking a knee" can thus mean "show your support". Your quoted lyrics can be translated as

Yeah, you know me. Super OG.
Always willing to show my support for causes I believe in even if it causes me to receive backlash.

But this translation doesn't quite flow enough to be used for the actual lyrics.

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  • Okay top, this makes now sense to me.. – Matthias Burger Mar 6 '19 at 10:39
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The expression will probably currently be perceived as referencing an American footballer, Colin Kaepernick, who knelt down on one knee instead of standing for the national anthem, as a protest against the current state of affairs in the US.

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  • Very vague, not particularly helpful, better as a comment. And the peaceful protest was specific, and not necessarily anti-government. – Mari-Lou A Mar 6 '19 at 10:18
  • @Mari-LouA: Fully agree on the rest of your comment, but the peaceful protest was anti-government as Kaepernick himself elaborated on this. Quoting Kaepernick from the link you added: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color". It's not anti-government in the general anarchist anti-government sense (but you implied that, the answer didn't), but it is definitely anti-current-state-of-affairs. – Flater Mar 6 '19 at 10:34
  • Anti-current state of the affairs is too generic, it could have meant anything. – Mari-Lou A Mar 6 '19 at 12:19

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