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Travis Scott and Nicki Minaj: Toward a Unified Theory of Birds and Beez

An unprecedented scholarly examination of several important questions in music and science

Last week, Houston rapper Travis Scott released his second studio album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. While he explained the title as a quote from Quavo's verse on their song "Pick Up the Phone," this hardly began to address our many questions. For instance: What kind of birds? Why are they singing? And what, if anything, do they have to do with the bees from Nicki Minaj's classic 2012 hit "Beez in the Trap"?

We needed answers, and we found them in the form of a daring academic investigation. Before you object: Yes, it's true that we here at MTV News rarely if ever publish original scholarly research. This is partly because most scholars prefer to offer their work to journals that are “accredited” and “printed on real paper, Meredith! This is written on the back of the receipt from your sandwich, and I’ve asked you twice now to please not leave trash on my desk.” But we are living in unusual times, and they call for unusual measures. Please read on for a philosophical text of the utmost importance. We are lucky to have intelligent and beautiful researchers like myself in the world. Remember: Knowledge is power.


By Meredith X. Graves, SJW, HBIC, PhD*

*Pretty hot Dude

Part I: The Trap: What is it, and where is it located?

You may have asked yourself this important question back in 2012 when, in an act of what can only be described as red-blooded patriotism, Nicki Minaj released “Beez In the Trap,” alerting America's honest, innocent citizens to the existence of an undisclosed site that is, evidently, full of bees.

Though its precise location remains a secret, Minaj later clarified that the trap she was referencing "relates to anywhere where you get your money." "That's our slang," she added, a clear tip-off to those familiar with the intelligence community that she was releasing previously classified information for the good of the public. Denying this important whistleblowing work the same weight granted to that done by Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning would be criminal. Minaj — who is not recorded as having an allergy to bee stings, though this information may remain undocumented as a protective measure against pro-bird lobbyists — entered the trap bravely and of her own accord to bring us this valuable information, and should be commended appropriately.

Thus, "Beez In the Trap" is, functionally speaking, a primary source when studying the history of women superseding culturally prevalent challenges of gender and class. For Travis Scott to casually reuse elements of her as-yet-unmatched research for Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight is exemplary of the current issues surrounding ethics in mellitomusicological journalism.

To introduce birds — scientifically suspected to be at least the same size as most bees — into any such trap is effectively Darwinian manspreading. The largest commercial hives still rely on a system of frames for improved honey collection, none of which could possibly be large enough to comfortably accommodate even one bird of average size.

This is no small matter. With women making, on average, 50 to 75 percent of the wages a man makes in a year, it only stands to reason that the path to feminist financial viability is paved with bees. Whether the hive — referred to from this point forward as the Trap — is naturally occurring or artificial, one mated queen (Apis ihaveaboyfriendus) serves as leader, mother, and boss to most if not all of the bees in the Trap. And as all worker bees are female, one can thus safely assume the hive, or Trap, to be a woman-owned, woman-run business.

To demand that birds — who aren’t equipped with the correct nipples for honey production, who have been known to destroy their surroundings, and who, again, simply will not fit — be invited into any such Trap is a contemporary iteration of the same argument men have been making against women’s-only spaces since time immemorial; namely, that emotional intimacy and shared experience aren’t as important as women’s sexual availability to men.

Thus, for a man to insist upon birds and bees cohabiting in the Trap is a thinly veiled enforcement of a particularly insidious, reductive, and outdated form of heteronormativity.

While the hive mind may want you to believe otherwise, it should be clear enough to all scholars by now that the real Trap here is, and has always been, heterosexuality.

Parts II–XVIII of this tract are forthcoming pending a grant from the University of Bees.