He is one of the most popular musicians in Jamaican history, having hit the charts there suddenly in 1992, with "Bogle" and "Love Me Browning/Love Black Woman", both massive hits in Jamaica and less so abroad. Soon afterwards, Banton released "Boom Boom Bye Bye", a controversial song that advocated violence and murder towards Jamaican homosexuals (called "batty boys"). Banton, who had just signed to Mercury Records, was forced by his label to issue a statement; he refused to apologize and cited his religion (Rastafarianism) as the basis for his beliefs.
Since this time, Banton has become more socially conscious, leaving behind his old style of singing songs of violence and promiscuity. He began supporting AIDS education and released a song called "Willy (Don't Be Silly)" (1993; The Voice of Jamaica), promoting the use of condoms.
Till Shiloh (1995) was an influential album, using a studio band instead of synthesized music, and marked a shift away from dancehall towards roots reggae for Banton. It also included a single called "Murderer" which condemned the violence in Jamaican dancehall music, inspired by the murders of dancehall musicians Panhead and Dirtsman. The song inspired several clubs to stop playing songs with excessively violent subject matter. Inna Heights (1997) substantially increased Banton's international audience.
In March of 2003 he released Friends for Life, which featured more sharply political songs.