Dirty Mind is a deliberate attempt to buck the system, both culturally and musically. Take a song like Uptown which directly addresses counter-culture realms and even has a woman asking openly in the song if he is gay (and Prince quite wittily responding, "no, are you?") That his music is so bold and textured only enhances this audacious nature that Prince brought to music throughout the 80s.
What is so great about this album is how undeniably infectious the whole project is. Prince continues to make the entire affair a dense dance party where the most vibrant participants could be included. Prince lighted the way for the most ridiculous individuals, and was unafraid of how the greater commercial environment would accept him. Prince established himself as the voice of the most colorful characters, and his music was only that much stronger for his adventurous nature.
It's hard not to see, additionally, how much Prince set the tone for what the 80s could sound like, at least early on. Given just how early in the decade this was, Prince was going in a direction that few had even considered up to this point. The entire decade was going in a new direction, mostly by the death of the disco-era that pervaded the airwaves in the late 70s. Prince was forced, effectively, to explore new territories and it is clear throughout Dirty Mind that Prince was the trailblazer ready to explore what the next decade could achieve.
Dirty Mind is a major success for Prince, no buts about it. It set the tone for his music, and music universally, for the next few years of his career and beyond. The intelligence and boldness of Prince had only just begun on his self-titled album, and this album laid even firmer scaffolding for the musical architecture he would build.
Favorite track: Uptown