This year's major-label rap seems to lack ambition. From potentially groundbreaking Internet stars forced into awkward compromises (J Cole and Big Sean) and classic mixtapes gutted and truncated for retail release (Big K.R.I.T.'s R4 the Prequel) to imitations of past glories (see Jay-Z and Kanye West), the 2011 slate has been underwhelming so far. Perhaps that's why I've spent more time listening to indie rap records or at least what's nominally considered "indie" and mixtapes. They may not necessarily be better, but at least they don't have the burden of living up to marketing hype.