Need to spend more time with this but I pretty much agree.
I've never been a huge Jay-Z fan aside from the hits...what's the best album to start with? The Black Album?
No. Start with the Blue Print. That's his defining album, his finest work. his 6th of 12 albums; the heart of his career, he was 31 when he made it. before beyonce and the mega-fame, but after breaking out with his various hits from his first 5 albums ("can I get a", "hard knock life", "big pimpin", etc.)
"reasonable doubt" is of course a classic as well, his raw debut, but he hit his stride on the Blue Print (there's a reason he's made two sequels to it). But the Blueprint is 13 tracks of flawlessness, no filler whatsoever. Probably my favorite hip hop/rap album ever. A very young Kanye West earned his stripes on that album, he did a lot of the beats/production for it, three years before dropping his own debut.
Black Album is great but definitely not where you should start.