After a harrowing 2007 — a year that started with the arrest of leading mix-tape maker DJ Drama — hip-hop mix tapes played it cool in 2008. Collections co-signed by top-level talent were scarce, possibly owing to legal fears; the remaining releases largely served as promotional tools. And the wide-scale proliferation of rap-mix-tape blogs meant you didn’t even need to put five on the latest in remixes, freestyles, and exclusives. There was still worthwhile stuff to savor, and you could get it for free (not just cheap); you just had to go digging in your RSS feeder to find it. Or wait for our second annual list of the year’s Ten Best Mix Tapes, with download links.