so i figured it out but to be honest it raises more questions than it answers.
how i got it to work:the symbol on his chest is part of the same object but is a different mesh. after deleting that it seemed to work.
however the collection of strange things:
Note: in the following when i say automatic weight didnt work i mean that it created empty vertex groups with no weighting.
1: even though i it was mirrored, when i applied the mirror there was an error saying that the mirror may act unexpectedly, this stopped automatic weights from being applied..at all.
2: i had made my own rig prior to attempting rigify, before deleting the chest symbol, if i removed the armature modifier of "my rig" but kept the vertex groups then automatic weights would apply to the new meta rig except for the fingers, and would not apply to the rig ( that is created from rigify) at all.
3: after i deleted the vertex groups of "my rig" the mesh would not apply automatic weights to either the meta rig or rig.